Theses and Dissertations

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Defense Date

5-12-2009

Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Second Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

Department

Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

Curtis M. Burney

Second Advisor

Donald S. McCorquodale

Third Advisor

Kenneth Banks

Fourth Advisor

Chris Johnson

Abstract

The current accepted methods for assessing the effect of water temperatures on sea turtle nesting, utilizes sea surface temperatures (SST). Since Loggerhead sea turtles spend the majority of their time near the ocean floor, often below a thermocline, bottom temperature analysis should be a better estimate of actual temperature experienced by the sea turtles, therefore, correlating better to nesting events. Thermograph data sensors were placed along three reef tracts that run parallel to Broward County, Florida’s coastline, to collect bottom seawater temperatures from the year 2004 through 2006. Detrended average daily bottom temperatures were compared to detrended Loggerhead sea turtle nest counts collected by daily beach monitoring throughout the county. The comparisons confirmed that during the years 2004 and 2006, up to 29.6% of the fluctuations in sea turtle nesting can be associated to the short-term changes in bottom water temperature. r2-values of 0.2963 and 0.2948 were determined along the Broward County coastline, with p-values<0.001. No significant correlations were found in the year 2005 when bottom water temperature variations were smaller than in the other years. This evaluation shows that Loggerhead sea turtle nesting counts can be highly correlated to bottom seawater temperatures, in Broward County, Florida. Better understanding of a location’s temperature fluctuations can lead to a better management and conservation plan for the associated species and habitat.

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