As a biotic interaction, drilling predation is affected by the evolutionary histories of the predator and prey, as well as the environment. A unique location with distinctive evolutionary histories and environmental conditions is the remote island of Rapa Nui. For mollusks, an evolutionary history in relative isolation has led to high rates of endemism (35–40%), in an area that has some of the most nutrient-poor waters of the global ocean. Here, we use death assemblages collected in Rapa Nui to answer two main questions: (1) How does a pervasive interaction like drilling predation play out in an isolated, oligotrophic marine system? and (2) What role do the environment (exposed vs. sheltered sites) and species traits (feeding, mobility, life habit) play in ‘protecting' the prey? We predicted that predation would be low relative to other tropical and subtropical islands given the oligotrophic conditions and found that the average drilling frequency (DF) was 5.67% (n = 6122). We observed no significant differences in DF between feeding guilds, mobility types, or life habits. Sheltered sites dominated by the infaunal bivalve Ctena bella had higher predation. In terms of passive defenses for C. bella, larger body size was not an effective defense against drilling predators. We show that drilling predation in Rapa Nui is lower than in high-latitude regions, and it is dependent on how sheltered or exposed sites are. Historically and currently, Rapa Nui has been subject to multiple anthropogenic stressors, including over-extraction and tourism, making efforts to understand its endemic species and their interactions fundamental.

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