Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Biology

First Advisor

H. Thomas Goodwin

Second Advisor

Stephen G. Dunbar

Abstract

This report outlines my contributions to ProTECTOR's Hawksbill turtle conservation project along the beachfront at Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge of Honduras. Observation-focused nightly beach patrols were conducted so as to census numbers of turtles nesting in this location presently and beach characteristic surveys were undertaken to create a map of environmental factors relevant to Hawksbill nesting along this beach. Resulting environmental maps were correlated with known factors contributing to Hawksbill nest site choice in order to assess the suitability of this beach for Hawksbill nesting, and thus determine its value for preservation efforts and ongoing funding. Of the 10 km beachfront under observation, 267 m were selected for more intensive nesting environment data analysis. This analysis included mapping the elevation, multiple vegetation, and pollution factors as multiple overlying map layers so as to identify most viable sites for turtle nesting via ArcGIS technology. It was found that while the beach was underpopulated (our nightly observations yielded a count of 0 nesting turtles), significant portions of the beachfront displayed both overlap of environmental conditions favorable to function as a Hawksbill nesting site and an absence of environmental conditions which are know to inhibit Hawksbill nesting. I found that certain portions of the beach displayed the most beneficial combination of environmental factors and are of highest value for preservation whereas other portions of the beach lacked positive environmental factors and thus are of much lower conservation value.

Subject Area

Hawksbill turtle--Honduras., Eretmochelys--Honduras, Turtles--Nests.

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