UCF study: Sea level rise impacts to Canaveral sea turtle nests will be substantial

March 04, 2020

ORLANDO, March 4, 2020 - Sea level rise and hurricanes are a threat to sea turtle nesting habitat along national seashores in the Southeast, but a new study predicts the greatest impact to turtles will be at Canaveral National Seashore.

The University of Central Florida-led study, which was published recently in the journal Ecological Applications, examined loggerhead and green sea turtle nests to predict the amount of beach habitat loss at Canaveral, Cumberland Island, Cape Lookout, and Cape Hatteras national seashores by the year 2100. Sea turtles help maintain the coastal ecosystem and are indicators for the health of sandy beaches.

When comparing sea turtle nesting density with predicted beach loss at the sites, they found nesting habitat loss would not be equal. The researchers predicted that by 2100, Canaveral would lose about 1 percent of its loggerhead habitat, while the three other seashores will lose between approximately 2.5 to 6.7 percent each.

Although Canaveral's percentage loss is smaller, the impact at this national seashore will be greater because of its nesting density.

"Canaveral is part of the core loggerhead nesting area for the Southeast," says Marta Lyons, a preeminent postdoctoral fellow in UCF's Department of Biology and the study's lead author. "The nests are already pretty well packed in there, so even a small loss of area can have a big impact on nesting sea turtle populations."

To determine beach loss at the study sites, the researchers used sea level rise and storm surge estimates and considered the effects of impervious structures along the shorelines, such as roads and buildings, in restricting natural beach movement. To do this, they developed a new method to calculate current and future sea turtle nesting areas that takes into account nesting data, beach length and width, and the impact of impervious surfaces.

Lyons says one of the goals was to create digital maps for the National Park Service to understand how sea turtle nesting areas will change with sea level rise and how resources could be managed.

"As the National Park Service thinks about future developments, whether that's putting in a new lifeguard station or new bathrooms, this method of calculating current and future sea turtle nesting area can help them decide where to put them," she says.
-end-
The study was funded by the National Park Service and the University of Central Florida's Preeminent Postdoctoral Program.

Study co-authors were Betsy von Holle, a program director with the National Science Foundation; Maria A. Caffrey, a climate specialist based in Denver, and John F. Weishampel, a program director with the National Science Foundation.

CONTACT: Robert H. Wells, Office of Research, 407-823-0861, robert.wells@ucf.edu

University of Central Florida

Related Sea Level Rise Articles from Brightsurf:

Sea-level rise will have complex consequences
Rising sea levels will affect coasts and human societies in complex and unpredictable ways, according to a new study that examined 12,000 years in which a large island became a cluster of smaller ones.

UM researcher proposes sea-level rise global observing system
University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science researcher Shane Elipot proposes a new approach to monitoring global sea-level rise.

Sea-level rise projections can improve with state-of-the-art model
Projections of potentially dramatic sea-level rise from ice-sheet melting in Antarctica have been wide-ranging, but a Rutgers-led team has created a model that enables improved projections and could help better address climate change threats.

How much will polar ice sheets add to sea level rise?
Over 99% of terrestrial ice is bound up in the ice sheets covering Antarctic and Greenland.

Sea-level rise could make rivers more likely to jump course
A new study shows that sea level rise will cause rivers to change course more frequently.

Sea level could rise by more than 1 meter by 2100 if emission targets are not met
An international study led by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) scientists found that the global mean sea-level rise could exceed 1 meter by 2100 and 5 meters by 2300 if global targets on emissions are not achieved.

UCF study: Sea level rise impacts to Canaveral sea turtle nests will be substantial
The study examined loggerhead and green sea turtle nests to predict beach habitat loss at four national seashores by the year 2100.

Wetlands will keep up with sea level rise to offset climate change
Sediment accrual rates in coastal wetlands will outpace sea level rise, enabling wetlands to increase their capacity to sequester carbon, a study from the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, shows.

Scientists discover evidence for past high-level sea rise
An international team of scientists, studying evidence preserved in speleothems in a coastal cave, illustrate that more than three million years ago -- a time in which the Earth was two to three degrees Celsius warmer than the pre-industrial era -- sea level was as much as 16 meters higher than the present day.

Corals in Singapore likely to survive sea-level rise: NUS study
Marine scientists from the National University of Singapore found that coral species in Singapore's sedimented and turbid waters are unlikely to be impacted by accelerating sea-level rise

Read More: Sea Level Rise News and Sea Level Rise Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.