Term of Award

Fall 2007

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of Biology

Committee Chair

David C. Rostal

Committee Member 1

Lance McBrayer

Committee Member 2

Sophie George

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of nest relocation on nest parameters and embryonic development. The nesting biology of the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) was studied on Blackbeard Island in 2005 and 2006, during the nesting season. Research nests were randomly assigned one of two treatments (in-situ or relocated). In-situ nests (n=35) were left in the original location, while relocated nests (n=34) were moved above the spring high-tide line and into areas that were considered to be of favorable nesting conditions. Data-loggers were placed in the center of nests to record the temperature during the incubation duration. Incubation durations, nest temperatures, hatch success, and hatchling straight carapace length were compared for all research nests. The observed nests showed similar nest parameters and embryonic development regardless of nest treatment. Differences in nest parameters and embryonic development seemed to be driven by abiotic conditions of the nesting site. This study shows that nest relocation can be used to alleviate nests of extreme abiotic conditions to increase hatch success, without altering embryonic development.

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