Examining the Effects of Changing Coastline Processes on Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) Nesting Habitat
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Hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) are severely depleted in the Wider Caribbean Region due to over-exploitation, as well as habitat loss and degradation. Hawksbills typically rely on narrow, steeply sloping beach strands for successful reproduction, making them potentially vulnerable to sea level rise, stronger storm cycles, and widespread coastal erosion predicted to accompany contemporary models of global climate change. In response to the need for easy-to-use methods in understanding how climate change will affect coastlines, and specifically how such change will affect wildlife habitats in coastal areas, a “Sea Turtle Nesting Beach Characterization Manual” was created using hawksbill turtles as a model. Some of the features considered in the Manual were beach width, vegetation, lighting, sediment type and predation. While providing useful data on coastline change over time, the Manual also serves as an educational tool to help residents and property owners understand how environmental change may influence the inhabitability of coastline areas for endangered species such as sea turtles. This report demonstrates the Manual’s usefulness in evaluating habitat suitability for hawksbill nesting and vulnerability to climate change in Barbados, one of the Caribbean’s largest hawksbill rookeries. The Manual itself will undergo international peer-review and be published separately.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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