Theses and Dissertations

Defense Date

7-1-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Second Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

Bernhard Riegl

Second Advisor

Derek Burkholder

Third Advisor

Joana Figueiredo

Abstract

Broward County, Florida is a popular tourism destination. Due to its popularity, much of the shoreline has been modified and natural habitats were replaced with infrastructure such as houses, condominiums, resorts, and restaurants. The same Broward County beaches utilized by tourists and residents are important for three species of nesting sea turtles, including the Leatherback, Dermochelys coriacea, Loggerhead, Caretta caretta, and Green, Chelonia mydas, Turtles. The Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program (BCSTCP) collects yearly data in order to study these endangered reptiles. Increased anthropogenic effects including further coastal development (public & private), public beach events, public beach access, as well as natural events, have caused these important nesting beaches to erode and narrow. In an effort to control this erosion damage, Broward County has performed a number of beach nourishment projects. This study found yearly fluctuations in sea turtle hatching and emergence success rates, and years of beach nourishment projects significantly decreased these rates. Yearly hatching data available from Broward County concludes that beach nourishment, as well as hurricanes and tropical storms cause decreases in sea turtle hatching and emergence success rates in Broward County. Additionally, nest depth and sea turtle size increases the hatching and emergence success rates from females that are not too large or too small that nest in Broward County.

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