Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science

Degree Name

Marine Science

First Advisor

Derek Burkholder, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Joana Figueiredo, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Rosanna Milligan, Ph.D.


Sea turtle, nesting, loggerhead, track width, carapace length, carapace width, chamber depth


Global populations of sea turtles have suffered major declines over the past century. Thus, it is critical to determine accurate demographic parameters and abundance estimates to fill current data gaps and inform effective conservation and recovery strategies. Population models with greater complexity and predictive capacities are necessary to more accurately assess population trends and responses. This study examines the relationships between track width, female body size (as measured by straight and curved carapace lengths and widths), and nesting variables (chamber depth, clutch size, and hatching success) of loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) nesting in southeastern Florida. Track width was significantly positively related to body size, and body size was significantly related to both chamber depth and clutch size. Only chamber depth showed a significant positive relationship with track width and could be predicted from track width measurements taken by a flexible measuring tape. Models such as these provide a low-cost tool that can allow for the analysis of sea turtle population changes over time in conjunction with environmental variation, as well as enable comparisons between past, present, and future nesting populations at much larger scales than currently possible.


All data was collected by trained and permitted surveyors under Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Marine Turtle Permit #MTP-255 and #MTP-214.