Beach erosion, Beaches -- Florida, Green turtle -- Nests -- Florida, Loggerhead turtle -- Nests -- Florida, Sea turtles -- Nests -- Florida
Coastal habitats are highly dynamic and vulnerable to landscape-level disturbances such as storms and restoration projects. Along the east coast of Florida these areas are particularly valuable as they provide significant nesting habitat for two sea turtle species, the threatened loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and the endangered green turtle (Chelonia mydas). This coast was heavily impacted by three major hurricanes in 2004 and in some areas by large restoration projects in 2005. Recent remote sensing methods allow for broad evaluation of the shoreline and thus the ability to assess sea turtle nesting habitat at a landscape scale. I collected nesting data for southern Brevard County, Florida from 1989 – 2005 and for Canaveral National Seashore, Florida from 1995 – 2005. I used LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and IfSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) remote sensing to map sea turtle nesting habitat in both areas following the 2004 hurricanes and any subsequent restoration. Canaveral National Seashore underwent no restoration while southern Brevard County received extensive restoration. Topographic variables (e.g., total sand volume, width, and slope) derived from the remote sensing data were compared across three time periods (pre-hurricane, posthurricane, and recovery period) and I compared nesting success data from 2004 to 2005. I built regression models for 2004 and 2005 to determine which topographic features influenced loggerhead and green turtle nesting the most. Green turtle nesting success declined from 2004 to 2005 only in highly restored areas while loggerhead nesting sucess declined throughout. Hurricanes caused a reduction in most of the topographic variables and restoration predominantly impacted aspects of the beach profile (e.g. slope and width). Loggerheads responded to profile characteristics (e.g. upper and lower iii beach slopes) though green turtles showed no consistent response to topography. The results indicate that both loggerheads and green turtles are sensitive to beach restoration, although loggerhead nesting is more influenced by beach morphology and green turtle nesting may be influenced more by other dune features such as vegetation cover.
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Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences, Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic
Long, Tonya Michele, "An Assessment Of Sea Turtle Nesting Behavior In Relation To Hurricane- And Restoration-induced Beach Morphodynamics" (2010). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1533.