Term of Award

Fall 2021

Degree Name

Master of Science, Applied Geography

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Department

Department of Geology and Geography

Committee Chair

Chester W. Jackson Jr.

Committee Member 1

Jaynie Gaskin

Committee Member 2

Christine Hladik

Committee Member 3

Robert Vance

Committee Member 3 Email

rkvance@georgiasouthern.edu

Abstract

St. Catherines Island is a highly dynamic barrier island on the Georgia coast that is also federally listed critical nesting habitat for loggerhead sea turtles. Understanding how St. Catherines’ shoreline and vegetation is changing over time is geographically important as a potential template for other barrier islands. Measuring sea turtle nest locations will provide insight into their natural patterns and how they adjust those locations on a changing barrier island. Analyzing Moving Boundaries Using R (AMBUR) is implemented in this research to assess the movement of the vegetation and shorelines from 2005-2017 using the End Point Rate (EPR) and Linear Regression Rate (LRR) methods of calculation. In this study, the distances from each loggerhead sea turtle nest were measured to the vegetation and shoreline of the respective year using the near distance tool in ArcGIS Pro. The vegetation line was found to be eroding at a faster rate than the shoreline across the island (mean LRR=-4.98 m/yr vs -3.99m/yr). The average distance from a sea turtle nest to the vegetation and shoreline was very similar across the island, despite different sections of the beach experiencing different patterns of erosion and accretion. The average distance to the shoreline from a loggerhead nest was 19.41m on the Northern Section and 19.02m on the Southern Section The average distance to the vegetation line was 27.07m on the Northern Section and 26.98m on the Southern Section. Linear regressions confirmed that the rates of change of the vegetation and shoreline influence the distance between sea turtle nests and these physical markers, although much variation is present in the dataset (all p-value < 0.01, R2 < 0.08).

Research Data and Supplementary Material

No

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