Theses and Dissertations

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Defense Date

2004

Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Department

Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

Curtis M. Burney

Second Advisor

Edward O. Keith

Third Advisor

Lou Fisher

Abstract

The distribution of loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) nests in Broward County was analyzed, using data from the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Project, to determine what features of the beach or nearby areas attract or repel nesting females.

Two of the goals of this study were to determine if nest density had increased over time and if the yearly distribution of nests was consistently high or low in the same areas. Comparisons used data collected from eighty-four zones of equal length over a ten-year period (1990-1999). Both physical and human-related (anthropogenic) characteristics of each beach zone and adjoining offshore areas were also examined using multivariate regression analysis.

Nest density per zone between zones differed significantly over the study period. Nest density within an individual zone remained statistically similar (some zones were preferred over others); zones that contained relatively high (or low) numbers of nests in one year also did so in all other years. Light intensity and an index of the ease of public access combined explain 35.6% of the variance in nest density per zone that was found. There was no significant relationship detected between nesting density per zone and beach width, offshore slope, and onshore slope.

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