Protect nests and nesting sites from predation using conditioned taste aversion

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Study locations

Key messages

  • One study evaluated the effects of protecting nests and nesting sites from predation using conditioned taste aversion on reptile populations. This study was in the USA.



  • Reproductive success (1 study): One replicated, randomized, controlled, before-and-after study in the USA found that a similar number of loggerhead turtle nests were predated in areas of the beach where artificial nests containing unpalatable eggs were deployed (to condition taste aversion) compared to areas with no artificial nests with unpalatable eggs.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated, randomized, controlled, before-and-after study in 1993–1994 on a long sandy beach in Florida, USA (Ratnaswamy et al. 1997) found that conditioned taste aversion using artificial nests with unpalatable eggs did not reduce predation of loggerhead turtle Caretta caretta nests compared to areas where no taste aversion was attempted. The number of nests predated in areas with taste aversion were similar (46% and 36 % of 246 and 390 nests) to the number of nests predated with no treatment (31% and 24% of 231 and 379 nests). Additional nests in the taste aversion area that were also covered with a wire screen were predated less than nests receiving just taste aversion (16% and 12% of 531 and 720 nests), but a similar amount to nests receiving no treatment. Consumption of artificial nests were statistically similar before (42–70% of eggs eaten), during (50–60%) and after (67–70%) taste aversion treatment. In 1993–1994, a long stretch of barrier beach (37 km) was broken down into four experimental blocks, and around 2.5 km of each selected for conditioned taste aversion. Nests in the remainder of the block either received no treatment or were part of further tests of the effect of nest screening or raccoon Procyon lotor removal. Fifteen artificial nests were placed in each taste aversion area consisting of 10–15 chicken eggs placed on the sand surface. Egg consumption was monitored during a pre-treatment phase (8 nights, untreated eggs), a treatment phase (8–9 night, eggs injected with 10 mg oral oestrogen) and a post-treatment phase (5 nights, untreated eggs), with eggs replaced daily. Turtle nests were monitored 2–4 times/month in 1993 and 2–3 times/week in 1994.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Sainsbury K.A., Morgan W.H., Watson M., Rotem G., Bouskila A., Smith R.K. & Sutherland W.J. (2021) Reptile Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions for reptiles. Conservation Evidence Series Synopsis. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

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Reptile Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Reptile Conservation
Reptile Conservation

Reptile Conservation - Published 2021

Reptile synopsis

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