Theses and Dissertations

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Defense Date

3-21-2014

Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Department

Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

Curtis M. Burney

Second Advisor

Donald S. McCorquodale

Third Advisor

Kirk Rusenko

Abstract

The greatest sea turtle nesting in the United States occurs in Florida, which accounts for more than 85% (Shoop et al, 1985). Five species of sea turtle have been documented nesting in Florida, including the loggerhead (Caretta caretta), green (Chelonia mydas), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempi), and hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) sea turtles. In southeast Florida, the loggerhead is the most common nester. The distribution of loggerhead nest numbers laid in 85 survey zones stretching along Broward County beaches between the Palm Beach County line and the Port Everglades Inlet have been highly correlated for aver a decade (P<<0.001). This study attempted to understand the reasons for this distribution by evaluating the distributions of false crawls and nesting success rates from 2000 through 2010. The nest and false crawl patterns in the 85 beach zones were all highly correlated for all 11 years (P < 0.01). These strong positive correlations indicate that these turtles receive preemergence cues, such as visual or depth profile, to primarily determine their emergence locations. However, weaker correlations between yearly nesting and nesting success patterns indicate that on-beach (post-emergence) cues also play a less important role in nest site selection.

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