green turtle, dune restoration, abiotic characteristics, hatching success, grain size, nest date
Habitat loss is among the biggest threats to conservation worldwide, so habitat restoration plays an increasing role in endangered species management. This is especially true for species with high site fidelity, such as nesting marine turtles. Sand replenishment is commonly used to restore coastal beaches after severe erosion events, and may affect marine turtles and other species that live or reproduce in that habitat. I investigated how abiotic characteristics of sand used in a dune restoration project at Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, affected reproduction of the federally-endangered green turtle (Chelonia mydas). Sand structure and composition can affect egg development and hatching success by altering nest conditions, with nests in fine-grain or very coarse sand suffering decreased hatching success. I determined that calcium carbonate content (27.0% ± 1.4 SE vs. 15.1% ± 3.8 SE), moisture content (3.29% ± 0.26 SE vs. 4.59% ± 0.25 SE), and grain size (427.53 µm ± 14.1 SE vs. 274.66 µm ± 29.1 SE) differed significantly between natural and restored dunes. Hatching success of green turtles (44.7% ± 6.2 SE vs. 65.8% ± 5.3 SE) was significantly lower on restored dunes compared to natural dunes with an estimated loss of 22,646 hatched eggs. Hatching success also decreased as the nesting season progressed. These results demonstrate the importance of regulating fill material used in beach restoration projects; substrate characteristics are easily evaluated and can significantly influence marine turtle hatching success.
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Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Balfour, Martha, "Abiotic Differences Between Green Turtle (chelonia Mydas) Nests In Natural Beach And Engineered Dunes: Effects On Hatching Success" (2010). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 4411.