HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

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Defense Date


Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Second Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management


Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

Curtis Burney

Second Advisor

Richard Dodge

Third Advisor

Lou Fisher


The distribution and abundance of ghost crab (Ocypode quadrata) burrows on Hillsboro Beach, Florida, and their relationship to, and effect on sea turtle nests were documented at three control sites and three experimental sites from April 1994 through October 1994. The three experimental sites were located immediately to the east of three open beach sea turtle hatcheries and the control sites were established on nearby open beaches.

The purpose of this work was 1) to determine if a larger population of O. quadrata occurred near sea turtle hatcheries than elsewhere along Hillsboro Beach and 2) to assess possible impacts of O. quadrata infestation on turtle hatchling emergence success.

O. quadrata abundance was not significantly different at the experimental and control areas. Within the hatcheries, ghost crabs did invade sea turtle nests both before and after hatching. The emergence success of nests invaded prior to hatching was significantly lower than for non-invaded nests. Ghost crab predation appeared to significantly increase the percentages of unhatched eggs, but did not significantly change the percentages of pipped eggs or dead-in-nest hatchlings, relative to uninvaded nests.

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