Date: 30 May 2014

Tupinambis merianae as nest predators of crocodilians and turtles in Florida, USA

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Abstract

Tupinambis merianae, is a large, omnivorous tegu lizard native to South America. Two populations of tegus are established in the state of Florida, USA, but impacts to native species are poorly documented. During summer 2013, we placed automated cameras overlooking one American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) nest, which also contained a clutch of Florida red-bellied cooter (Pseudemys nelsoni) eggs, and one American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) nest at a site in southeastern Florida where tegus are established. We documented tegu activity and predation on alligator and turtle eggs at the alligator nest, and tegu activity at the crocodile nest. Our finding that one of the first two crocodilian nests to be monitored was depredated by tegus suggests that tegus should be further evaluated as a threat to nesting reptiles in Florida.