restoration, loggerhead turtles, green turtles, beach nourishment, reproductive success, disorientations, nest placement, sea turtles
Marine turtle reproductive success is strongly correlated with the stability and quality of the nesting environment. Because females show fidelity to key nesting beaches, the management and physical characteristics of these beaches directly affect future generations of marine turtles and may be essential for the recovery of these threatened and endangered species. The impacts of beach restoration on loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) and on green turtles (Chelonia mydas) were investigated. Previous studies concerning beach nourishment projects have focused on loggerhead turtles. I compared data between nourished and non-nourished areas and between loggerhead and green turtles. I found, at one season post-nourishment, negative effects on nesting success and no significant effect on reproductive success for both loggerheads and established the same relationships with green turtles. Physical attributes of the fill sand, which did not facilitate acute scarp formation or severe compaction, did not physically impede turtles in their attempts to nest. Instead, the decrease in nesting success was attributed to an absence of abiotic and or biotic factors that cue nesting behavior. The increase in loggerhead nesting success rates during the second season post-nourishment was attributed to the equilibration process of the seaward crest of the berm. After the beach was restored, both species of turtles placed nests significantly farther from the water in the nourished area than in the non-nourished area. Green turtles nested on or near the dune and loggerheads nested on the seaward crest of the berm. The tendency of loggerheads to nest closer to the water resulted in more loggerhead than green turtle nests being "washed out" by erosion during the equilibration process. There was a significant increase in hatching success only for loggerheads when wash outs were excluded, thus illustrating the importance of nest placement and the detrimental effects of the equilibration process to the reproductive success of loggerheads. A decrease in reproductive output occurred during the first season post-nourishment. The reduction in the estimated total number of hatchlings produced (reproductive output) was a consequence of decreased nesting success lowering nest numbers. This reduction demonstrates that, regardless of similar reproductive success rates, marine turtles incurred net losses during the first season following nourishment. These results further reveal the impacts of decreased nesting success and the importance of minimizing excessive non-nesting emergences associated with beach nourishment.
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Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Arts and Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Brock, Kelly, "Effects Of A Shore Protection Project On Loggerhead And Green Turtle Nesting Activity And Reproduction In Brevard County, Florida" (2005). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 288.