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Effects of Off-Road Vehicles on the Nesting Activity of Loggerhead Sea Turtles in North Carolina

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EFFECTS OF OFF-ROAD VEHICLES ON THE NESTING ACTIVITY OF LOGGERHEAD SEA TURTLES IN NORTH CAROLINA By LINDSAY R. NESTER A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2006

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Copyright 2006 by Lindsay R. Nester

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To my mom, Ruth Nester.

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iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank the people working for Cape Hatteras National Seashore where my love for sea turtles was fostered. I would especially lik e to thank my boss, Marcia, during my time at Cape Hatteras. Sp ecial thanks go to a ll the employees, SCAs, and volunteers at Cape Hattera s, Cape Lookout, and Pea Island for their data collection. The following people were especially helpfu l: Jenn, Matthew, Jim, Jeff, Dennis, Tracy, Ruth, Gail, Michael, Elizabeth, Kenny, Les, and Shiloh. My advisor, Nat Frazer, deserves a bi g thanks for guiding me through the grad school process. He was also a very good sport and endured less than desirable field conditions. A committee member, Perran Ro ss, provided invaluable support and knowledge. He spent an inordinate amount of time and effort guiding me through the thesis process. I would also like to tha nk Mary Christman for giving statistical advice that was essential to the completion of this project. I am greatly appreciative of John Confers constructive advice, perspective, and support. Ru ss Scarpino and Mario Mota provided valuable technical advice. April Norem offered useful editing advice. I would like to thank Mom, Dad and Kristin, for all of their support. Battle Cat has provided unconditional love and tolerated my absences in the summers and time on the computer. I would also like to thank all of my friends from Richmond, Virginia, who have been my base of support: Meaga n, Abby, Kelly, Nick, Van, and Cheryl.

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v TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iv LIST OF TABLES............................................................................................................vii LIST OF FIGURES.........................................................................................................viii ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ..x CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................1 Loggerhead Status........................................................................................................5 General Description of Loggerheads............................................................................6 Hypotheses..................................................................................................................13 False Crawl and Nesting Laying.........................................................................13 Emergence Success.............................................................................................13 Incubation............................................................................................................13 Habitat Quality....................................................................................................13 Sand and Beach Characteristics...........................................................................13 Conclusion..................................................................................................................14 2 METHODS.................................................................................................................15 Study Sites..................................................................................................................15 Background Information on Cape Lookout.........................................................17 Background Information on Pea Island...............................................................19 Statistical Analysis......................................................................................................38 False Crawl and Nesting Laying.........................................................................39 Emergence Success.............................................................................................39 Incubation............................................................................................................39 Habitat Quality....................................................................................................41 Sand and Beach Characteristics...........................................................................42 3 RESULTS...................................................................................................................43 False Crawl and Nesting Laying.................................................................................43 Emergence Success.....................................................................................................44

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vi Incubation...................................................................................................................45 Habitat Quality............................................................................................................48 Sand and Beach Characteristics..................................................................................49 ORV Counts................................................................................................................51 4 DISCUSSION.............................................................................................................52 Sand and Beach Characteristics..................................................................................52 False Crawl and Nest Laying......................................................................................54 Emergence Success a nd Habitat Quality....................................................................55 Length of Incubation and Possible ex Ratio Effects...................................................57 5 MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS..........................................................................61 Management Requirements........................................................................................61 Implications for Future Management.........................................................................66 Cape Hatteras..............................................................................................................67 False Crawl and Nesting Laying.........................................................................67 Incubation............................................................................................................68 Habitat Quality....................................................................................................68 Cape Lookout..............................................................................................................70 False Crawl and Nesting Laying.........................................................................70 Incubation............................................................................................................71 Habitat Quality....................................................................................................71 Conclusions.................................................................................................................71 LIST OF REFERENCES...................................................................................................73 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.............................................................................................81

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vii LIST OF TABLES Table page 2-1 Least squares model for incubation peri od and specified variables. The Groups 1 through 3 represent separate m odels involving incubation period........................40 2-2 Variables and their definitions used in my study on the effects of ORV use on loggerhead sea turtle nesting activity.......................................................................41 3-1 Results for 2005 nesting season for nest and false crawl occurrences in logistic models with the following variable s: Group 1 Sand Char acteristics, Group 2 Beach Characteristics, Group 3 Light: Intensity......................................................45 3-2 2005 Incubation period in days displayed in least squares models for the following variables: Group 1 Sand Characteristics, Group 2 Beach Characteristics, Group 3 Date laid, Year, and Site type..........................................47 3-3 2005 Results from nesting and false cr awl locations for the following variables by Site Type (ORV and non-ORV): Group 1 Sand Characteristics, Group 2 Beach Characteristics for Cape Hatte ras National Seashore, Cape Lookout National Seashore, and Pea Island Wild life Refuge, North Carolina, USA............50 3-4 ORV counts during 2005 sea turtle nes ting season for Cape Hatteras (Ocracoke, Hatteras, and Bodie Islands) and Cape Lookout (South Core and North Core Islands) National Seashores, North Caroli na, USA. Park management at North Core and South Core Islands allow both AT V and ORV use. In contrast, staff at Ocracoke, Hatteras, and Bodie Islands allow ORV use only...................................51

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viii LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 1-1 Loggerhead returning to the ocean af ter nesting on Bodie Island of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Caro lina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Jenn Snukis.................................................................................................................6 1-2 Loggerhead returning to the Atlantic Ocean after laying a nest on Ocracoke Island of Cape Hatteras National Seashor e, North Carolina, USA in summer 2003. Photo by Lindsay Nester...............................................................................11 1-3 Sea turtle nest closure sign on Ocra coke Island of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina, USA in fall 2004. Photo by Lindsay Nester.................12 2-1 A typical weekend day in an ORV use area on Ocracoke Island of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina, US A in summer 2005. Photo by Lindsay Nester.......................................................................................................................16 2-2 A typical weekend day on North Core Island of Cape Lookout National Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer 2004. Photo by Lindsay Nester..........18 2-3 A typical weekend day on Pea Island of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Lindsay Nester..........................19 2-4 Study sites in Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Pea Island Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina, USA................................................................................................20 2-5 Study sites in Cape Lookout Nationa l Seashore, North Carolina, USA..................21 2-6 Loggerhead false crawl on Ocracoke Is land of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina, USA summer 2005. Photo by Lindsay Nester..............................23 2-7 Green turtle crawl on Ha tteras Island of Cape Hattera s National Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Jenn Snukis..........................................24 2-8 Loggerhead turtle crawl on Hatteras Is land of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Jenn Snukis...............................24 2-9 Crawl record data sheet from Handb ook for Sea Turtle Volunteers in North Carolina, USA (North Carolina W ildlife Resources Commission 2002)................26

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ix 2-10 Map of sea turtle management zones for Cape Lookout National Seashore. Each tickmark equals 1 mile.............................................................................................27 2-11 Nest marking on South Core Island of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Lindsay Nester....................................30 2-12 Nest excavation on Hatteras Island, North Carolina, USA in summer 2004. Photo by Lindsay Nester..........................................................................................31 2-13 Penetrometer being used to determine the compaction and psi for a false crawl on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina, US A in summer 2005. Photo by Jill Smith..34 2-14 Footprint touching a transect line for pe destrian counts. Photo by Paul Nester.....36 2-15 Slope being determined for a false cr awl on Ocracoke Island at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Jill Smith....37 3-1 2000-2005 Incubation periods in days for loggerhead sea turtle nests at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Cape Lookout National Seashore, and Pea Island Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina, USA by site type (ORV and non-ORV).............46 4-1 Expected change in percentages of fe males due to mean temperature differences between ORV and non-ORV beaches in North Carolina, USA from sex ratio/temperature relationshi p (Godfrey and Mrosovsky 1997)...............................58 5-1 Loggerhead false crawl apex along tire rut on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina, USA in summer 2005 Phot o by Lindsay Nester.....................................................67 5-2 Loggerhead hatchling crawling toward the Atlantic Ocean on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina, USA in fall 2004. Photo by Lindsay Nester..................................69

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x Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science EFFECTS OF OFF-ROAD VEHICLES ON THE NESTING ACTIVITY OF LOGGERHEAD SEA TURTLES IN NORTH CAROLINA By Lindsay R. Nester August 2006 Chair: Nat B. Frazer Major Department: Interdisciplinary Ecology Loggerheads sea turtles face many anthropoge nic nesting threats, including beach armoring, beach nourishment, artificial light ing, commercial fishing, beach vehicular driving, and pollution. Most pot ential threats have been thoroughly evaluated, but there remains a dearth of information about the effects of beach vehi cular driving on nest success. Several factors were evaluated to determine the effect of driving off-road vehicles (ORVs) on nesting activity. To co mpare driven and non-driven beaches, data on beach slope, sand compaction, beach width, sand color, sand grain size, moisture content, incubation temperature, and pedestrian act ivity were collected during the 2005 nesting season at Cape Lookout National Seashore, Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Pea Island Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina, USA. Data collected in the 2000 to 2005 nesting seasons were assessed to determine differen ces in incubation period and the percentages of false crawls between ORV and non-ORV beaches.

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xi ORV use was found to be a significant fact or in determining nesting laying. False crawls were more likely to occur on ORV b eaches. The light intensities for 300-500 nm were found to be a significant factor in de termining the occurrence of a nest or false crawl. A T-test for light intensities for 300-500 nm found gr eater light intensity on nonORV beaches. Incubation period was estimated to be an average of 2 days longer for ORV beaches. This is estimated to cause a decline of 20% in production of female loggerhead turtles at these locations. N one of the beach and sand characteristics accounted for this difference. More nests were relocated on ORV beaches than non-ORV beaches. However, nests on non-ORV beaches were subject to higher rates of inundation by the sea. Emergence success of hatchlings in Cape Hatteras was reduced by more than half by overwash and approached zero with washout. The greater occurrences of false crawls on ORV beaches may cause the nesting turtle to expend additional energy. This energy could be put in to egg production or growth. Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout need to further evaluate this effect and take action to mitigate it. ORV use could be stopped completely, permitted, mileage reduced, discontinued during nesting s eason, or prohibited during nigh ttime hours. The habitat quality of non-ORV beaches was inferior to the beaches designated for ORV use. The issues of overwash, washout, and light intens ity should be considered when selecting an area for ORV use or as a nest relocation si te. Areas with high historic nesting percentages and low incidence of overwash a nd washout ought to be designated as nonORV. The possible skewed sex ratios presen t a risk for a recovering population. ORV use should be discontinued in order to correct sex ratio.

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1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION My study examined the effects of ORV use on loggerhead sea turtles ( Caretta caretta ) nesting on the beaches of North Carolina, USA. The variables I evaluated were false crawl percentages, nest percentages, emergence success, incubation period, and habitat quality. I also estimated the effect on sex ratio of emerging hatchlings caused by temperature differences betw een ORV and non-ORV beaches. Sea turtles are ancient rep tiles that have been swimming the oceans and nesting on beaches long before there was a human speci es. A great deal has changed since sea turtles coexisted with dinosaurs. Today all extant species of sea turtles are listed on the Endangered Species Act as either threaten ed or endangered. During the 100 million years sea turtles have existed, their numbers presumably have fluctuated with different habitat limiting factors and pred ation (Spotila 2004). It is no w that sea turtles face their greatest challenge to existence due to direct and indirect intera ctions with humans. The journey to the nesting beach is often a treacherous one for the gravid female. The females become entangled in fishing gear, ingest plastics, collide with boats (Tisdell and Wilson 2002), are sucked into dredging equipment, and damaged in oil-platform removal (Lutcavage et al. 1997). Once on the be ach, sea turtles may be directly taken for commercial use or scared away by tourists (Tisdell and Wilson 2002). The majority of unnatural deaths of sea turtles are attributed to commercial fisheries. Sea turtles can be caught in cr ab pots, longline fishing hooks, or shrimping trawl nets (Tisdell and Wilson 2002). It is estimated that shrimping alone kills 5,000 to

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2 50,000 loggerheads per year. As of 1990, approximately 500-5,000 loggerhead mortalities per year were caused by fishing other than shrimping (National Research Council 1990). Recently longline fishing has become a cri tical threat to s ea turtle survival (Spotila et al. 2000). There are 40 nations part icipating in longline fishing. The longline fishing effort was estimated at 1.4 billi on hooks in the water in 2000 (Lewison et al. 2004). In 1999, it was estimated that 769 logge rhead sea turtles were caught in pelagic longline fishing in the U. S. Atlantic waters (Yeung 2001). Another study concluded that 200,000 loggerheads were caught in pelagic long lines worldwide in 2000 (Lewison et al. 2004). The hooks used in longline fisheries ar e considered by fishermen to be too expensive to lose. Some fishermen illegally cu t the throats of the turtle to save their hooks (Casale and Cannavo 2003). The term take refers to the killing or harv esting of a wild species. It is estimated that dredging results in the mortality of 500-5,000 loggerheads per year. Collision with boats causes the mortality of 50-500 loggerheads per year. Oil-rig removal ends the lives of 10-100 loggerheads per year (National Research Council 1990). The United States is on a long list of countries that previously participated in the selling and buying of commercial turtle m eat (Groombridge and Luxmore 1989, Eckert 1993, Tisdell and Wilson 2002). Due to the prot ected status of all sea turtles in the United States, the legal take of sea turtles fo r commercial use has stopped. Most of this commercial take has been discontinued throughout the world, as all species of sea turtles have been listed on the International Uni on for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) red list of endangered sp ecies (Marine Turtle Specialist Group 1996)

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3 and in Convention for International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) appendix 1. This classification prohibits co mmercial trade from or to a ny country that has signed the CITES agreement (cites.org n. d.). Tourism and ecotourism impact sea turtles in various direct and indirect ways. Indirectly, tourists may leave beach chairs, umbrellas, and trash on the beach which could interfere with or prevent a tu rtle from nesting (Arianouts ou 1988). Tourists directly interact with turtles by taking pictures, using flashlight s, riding on, or touching nesting turtles. Any of these direct interactions can cause an aborted nesting attempt or possible injury to the turtle and/or tourist (Campbell 2003). Beach armoring can accelerate the rate of erosion on a nesting beach. Nests laid near an armoring structure will potentially have a greater occurrence of overwash, thus reducing hatching success. The term overwas h refers to water from the ocean washing over a sea turtle nest. If ove rwash becomes severe, the whole nest could be lost to the tide. Renourished (sand repl aced) beaches often become t oo hard for digging by nesting females. Hatchlings also have difficulty emerging from nest cavities on renourished beaches. These beaches can remain hard for many years (Steinitz et al. 1998). Artificial lighting has resulted in the deat hs of countless hatchlings (Hayes and Ireland 1978, Mann 1978, Philibosian 1976, Witherington and Martin 2003). Sea turtles have been shown to move towards brighter areas. Loggerheads can see wave lengths ranging from 360-700 nm, but they are xant hophobic. Xanthophobic means an aversion to yellow-orange light (wave lengths higher in the visual range of the turtle) (Bartol and Musick 2003, Gould 1998). Sometimes other light from streetlights, cars, hotels, houses, and lighthouses is mistaken by hatchlings as the ocean. The resu lt of this can be

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4 hatchlings hit by cars, stepped on by people, or the death of hatc hlings from dehydration (Witherington and Martin 2003). Survivorship varies greatly with changing life stages of sea turtles. Loggerhead survival rates from egg to adulthood are very low, estimat ed at 1 or 2 per 1,000 (Frazer 1986). Adult loggerhead survival rates were estimated at 0.875 (Chaloupka and Limpus 2001). Another study had similar conclusions with an adult survivorship at 0.809 (Heppell 1998). Survivorship of loggerh ead hatchlings has been estimated at 0.93 (Witherington and Salmon 1992). The mean annual survivorship of loggerhead hatchlings was estimated in anot her study at 0.675 (Heppell 1998). Most of these potential threats have been thoroughly evaluated, but there remains a dearth of information about the effect of ORV use on sea turtle nesting beaches. My study examined whether ORV use presents a sign ificant threat to th e reproductive success of the loggerhead sea turtle. In 1967, Archie Carr wrote, the hold of Care tta on shores of the United States is slipping fast. Many of the best of the old loggerhead beaches have become cluttered with people and the constant tra ffic of cars (Carr 1967 p. 223). Since Carr made that statement, there has been a considerable change in the availability and use of ORVs. The soft, sandy beaches of the North Carolina shor e cannot be successfully driven in a twowheel drive vehicle (personal observation). Human use of the coast for recreation has greatly increased along with the growth of the human population. Four-wheel drive vehicles were not available to civilians until after WW II (Blodge t 1978). The popularity of ORVs has dramatically increased. Off-ro ad driving is one of the fastest growing recreational activities in the United States. In 2001, 36 million Americans participated in

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5 ORV use. It has been estimated that 3.2% of the population of North Carolina participated in ORV use from 1999-2004 (Cordell et al. 2005). Loggerhead Status On July 28, 1978, the loggerhead sea turtle was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act throughout its entire range. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 defines threatened on page 6 as, any species which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable futu re throughout all or a si gnificant portion of its range. A species listed as threatened was afforded th e same protection under the law as a species listed as endangered and was subj ect to a federal Recove ry Plan (Senate and House of Representatives of the United St ates of America 1973). The most recent Loggerhead Recovery Plan was prepared in 1991 and presented threats to the species. A new version of the Loggerhead Recovery Plan is currently being drafted, but has not been released to the public at this time. The loggerheads range spans both hemisphere s in temperate and tropical waters. The Atlantic, Pacific, and I ndian Oceans are all included in the loggerhead range (Bolten 2003). My study evaluated nesting activity at th e northern end of the l oggerhead range. Within the United States, 35% to 40% of the worlds loggerhead turtle nests are laid. This large nesting aggregation ranked th e southeastern United States as the second largest loggerhead nesting a ggregation in the world (Bjor ndal et al 1983, Meylan et al. 1995). There are approximately 53,000-92,000 loggerh ead nests laid in the southeastern United States every year. Approximately 6,200 nests are laid in the northern breeding area (TEWG 1998). This northern nesting gr oup appears to be decr easing at a rate of 3% per year (Frazer 1986).

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6 General Description of Loggerheads Figure 1-1. Loggerhead returning to the ocean after nesting on Bodie Island of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Caro lina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Jenn Snukis. The most abundant sea turtle nesting on No rth Carolina beaches is the loggerhead (Epperly et al.1995). Adult loggerheads have a reddish-brown car apace and scales. Adult loggerheads in the south eastern United States weigh an average of 115 kg (Nester and Giuliano 2006). The age at which sexual maturity is reached is estimated at 22 years (Crowder et al. 1994). Loggerheads in the southeastern United States nest during summer months on the high energy beaches of the barrier islands. Mating normally takes place from March to early June. Nests can be laid as early as April and as late as September. In order to lay a successful nest, a female needs access to loos e, deep sand that is above the high tideline (Miller 1997). The typical loggerh ead nest at night, but there is an occasional exception. Since most turtles follow this night nesting rule, it is feasible to count the number of nests laid each night by surveying the following mo rning (Schroeder et al. 2003). Females

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7 nesting at night can perceive light and movement and be easil y frightened resulting in an aborted nesting attempt, also calle d a false crawl (Arianoutsou 1988). In order to assess the poten tial impact of ORVs on th e nesting and reproductive success of loggerheads, I compared the following: proportion of false crawls and ne sts on ORV and non-ORV beaches emergence success of hatchlings from nests laid on ORV and non-ORV beaches average number of incubation days for nests laid on ORV and non-ORV beaches rate of nest relocation for ORV and non-ORV beaches amount of overwash and washout of nests on ORV and non-ORV beaches I also compared the following characte ristics for ORV and non-ORV beaches and assessed the relationship of these characteris tics on the proportion of false crawls and emergence success of hatchlings from nests: beach slope beach width sand grain size sand compaction beach temperature relative amount of pedestrian use amount of light on beaches (545-700 nm and 300-500 nm) year effects over the 6 year period from 2000-2005 The National Park Service and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Servic e controlled about 150 miles (241 km) of coastline in the area my study took place. The National Park Service and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service admini stered the Endangered Species Act and the Loggerhead Recovery Plan. The U. S. Nati onal Park Service at Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras was not operating under a finalized mana gement plan or a sea turtle incidental take permit. Cape Hatteras has made many failed attempts to finalize a management plan. A 1978 draft plan was the management plan Cape Hatteras operated under for a portion of my study period. Cape Lookout had a Five Year Strategic Plan that mentions ORV use, but lacked any fo rmal ORV management plan.

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8 The effects of ORV use on sea turtles have not been adequately researched. In the Cape Hatteras 1978 Draft ORV Management Pla n, there was not a program of scientific study in place (National Park Service 1978). During the years since that plan was written, there have been only 4 studies involving ORVs and sea turtles. The Loggerhead Recovery Plan addressed the issue of ORV use and listed the possible conflicts. ORV use at night can disturb nesti ng females and cause aborted nes ting attempts. Vehicles can kill or disorient hatchlings. Furthermore, ORV use contributes to erosion, which will eventually deteriorate the quality and quantit y of nesting habitats. The Recovery Plan specifically directed the U. S. National Park Service to evaluate the impacts of vehicular traffic on loggerhead nesting activities. Th e plan mentioned Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National Seashores as potential tr ouble areas (NMFS and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1991). In 1977, a graduate student from Florida Atlantic University conducted research showing that sand compaction from driving a bove a nest can decrease nesting success and kill hatchlings (Mann 1977). Another study was conducted by Pa ul Hosier of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 1981. One of the study sites was Cape Lookout National Seashore. This study conclude d that a tire track as deep as 10-15 cm could significantly impede a hatchlings abilit y to reach the surf (Hosier 1981). These studies gave some information about the e ffects of beach driving, but the number of ORVs on beaches has drastically changed sin ce 1977. Today ORVs ha ve the potential to make a greater impact on sea turtle recovery and survival. In recent years, there have been 2 additiona l studies relevant to this topic. In 2002, the University of Florida published its resu lts from a study on vehicle tracks along the

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9 Gulf Coast of Florida, USA. This study came to the same conclusions as Hosier (Lamont et al. 2002). Researchers at University of North Carolina at Wilmington were contracted by the state in 2004 to evaluate ORV use at Fo rt Fisher State Park in southern North Carolina, USA. The economic impacts of ORV use were reviewed, as well as the biological impacts. This study compared the sea turtle nesting data at Fort Fisher to the past data from Bald Head Island, which is loca ted just to the south of Fort Fisher. The management at Bald Head Island did not allo w ORV use, while the staff at Fort Fisher allowed ORVs with a permit. The economic impacts were evaluated by Chris Dumas. He concluded that a policy of 24 hour ORV use 6 months of the year and daytime only ORV use the other 6 months of the year would reduce the indirect and direct benefits to the local economy by only 4%. The biological impact analysis of the study found that ORV lights and tire ruts negativ ely affect nesting adult and ha tchling sea turtles. This study stated that restricting ORV use will do little to prot ect endangered, threatened, or rare species. The only scenario that will bene fit all wildlife species would be the closing of all areas open to ORV us e (Webster et al. 2005). Sea turtles are not the only beach-depende nt animals affected by ORV use. There have been a few studies on other beach species. A shorebird study published in 1992 found that areas of beach with greater than 100 vehicles had reduced abundances of 13 species of shorebirds. For example, the short-billed dowitcher is very sensitive and can have reduced abundance with only 10 to 40 vehi cles present (Pfister et al. 1992). A study in South Africa found that the majority, 80%, of ORV use occurred in areas occupied by breeding birds (Watson et al. 1996). A pr evious study conducted by Watson concluded that oystercatchers are more susceptible to human impacts due to their nesting in areas

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10 popular for human use. Oystercatchers we re disturbed by vehicles or pedestrians approaching within 40 m of their nest (Watson 1992). Beach invertebrate abundance can be greatly reduced by ORV presence. A study on Assateague Island, Virginia, USA found that 98% of invertebrates could be killed by 100 nighttime passes of an ORV (Wolcott and Wo lcott 1984). Other invertebrate studies have concluded that ORV use could bury or cr ush ghost crabs, interf ere with ghost crabs reproduction, and dry out substrates making them unusable (Steiner and Leatherman 1981). An ORV use impact study on beaches in coastal Australia found that vehicle use caused significant damage to beach vegeta tion. This study found that ORVs impacted large areas of vegetation on a single trip. When additional trips were added, there was little difference observed in the damage to ve getation (Priskin 2003). At Fire Island, New York, USA another study indicated that ORV use on beaches adversely affected foredune vegetation. The Fire Island study showed 1 pass per week by an ORV can severely damage beach vegetation (Anders and Leathe rman 1987). An additional study at Fort Fisher Recreation Area and Baldhead Isla nd, North Carolina, USA concluded that the abundance and diversity of beach vegetation was reduced in areas of ORV use (Hosier and Eaton 1980). A study on the impacts of ORV use on mammalian communities in North Carolina, USA found that community structure was a ltered by ORV use. Mammal populations were 3 times greater in areas of non-ORV use (Webster et. al. 1980).

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11 Figure 1-2. Loggerhead returning to the Atlan tic Ocean after laying a nest on Ocracoke Island of Cape Hatteras National Seashor e, North Carolina, USA in summer 2003. Photo by Lindsay Nester. There are direct and indirect impacts ORVs could have on sea turtle nesting activity. My study addressed the indirect impacts of ORVs on loggerhead activity. Habitat and nesting patterns c ould be altered by ORV use. In sea turtle nesting activity, nest site selection is an important process. Through nest site selec tion, sea turtles balance the trade-offs and potential pay-offs of various nesting sites. Sea turtles use multiple environmental clues when selecting a nest site (Wood and Bjornda l 2000). Nest site selection involves 3 phases: beach selection, em ergence of female, and nest placement.

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12 Figure 1-3. Sea turtle nest closure sign on Ocracoke Island of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina, USA in fall 2004. Photo by Lindsay Nester. The complete nesting process involves the following steps: emergence from the ocean, climbing the beach, digging a body pit (a hole in the sand approximately the size of the turtles body), digging the egg chamber (a flask-like hole in the body pit region into which the eggs are deposited), egg laying, covering the egg chamber and body pit with sand, and returning to th e ocean (Miller et al. 2003). At any time during the nesting process, a sea turtle may abort the attempt. This is termed a false crawl. There are many possible causes for an aborte d attempt, including an undesirable location or human disturbance (Kikukawa et al. 1999). To investig ate these different possibilities, I proposed the following hypotheses:

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13 Hypotheses False Crawl and Nesting Laying 1. The proportion of false crawls to nest s will be higher on ORV beaches. Conversely, nest laying will be greater on non-ORV beaches. 2. The sand, beach, and light characteristics will not significantly influence whether a turtle lays a nest or false crawls. 3. The proportion of false crawls to nests w ill differ during the 6 year study period. Emergence Success 4. Emergence success will be gr eater on non-ORV beaches. 5. The sand and beach characteristics will not significantly influence the emergence success. 6. The emergence success will vary du ring the 6 year study period. Incubation 7. The number of incubation days will diffe r between ORV and non-ORV beaches. 8. The sand and beach characteristics will not significantly influence days of incubation. 9. The number of incubation days will vary during the 6 year study period (for the total number of days all nests were incuba ting on the beach during a given year). Habitat Quality 10. The proportion of nests laid that were relocated will be greater for non-ORV beaches. 11. The amount of overwash and washout will be greater on non-ORV beaches. Sand and Beach Characteristics 12. The sand characteristics (particle size di stribution and water content) will not be significantly different between OR V and non-ORV beaches. The beach characteristic slope will not differ significantly between ORV and non-ORV beaches. The remaining beach characteri stics (width, width adjusted for tidal variation, compaction, temperat ure, and pedestrian use) will differ between the two site types. Width and compaction will be less on non-ORV beaches, while pedestrian use will be greater on non-ORV beaches. Temperature will be significantly greater on non-ORV beaches. The amount of light 545-700 nm and 300-500 nm will be greater on non-ORV beaches.

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14 Conclusion There are numerous reasons I evaluated the effects of ORV use on loggerhead sea turtles at Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National Seashores. L oggerhead sea turtles are listed as threatened under the Enda ngered Species Act (Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of Am erica1973), and their popu lation is thought to be declining (Frazer 1986). In addition to OR V use, sea turtle hatc hlings and their eggs face many threats to survival (National Re search Council 1990). Any impacts ORV use have on loggerhead sea turtles could potential ly be exacerbated by increased ORV use. My research on the impact of ORV use on th e nesting activity of loggerhead sea turtles could aid in the drafting of ORV management plans.

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15 CHAPTER 2 METHODS I conducted my study during the 2000-2005 nesting seasons at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Cape Lookout National S eashore, and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. All of these coastal ar eas were in the state of Nort h Carolina. The study sites at Cape Hatteras National Seashore consiste d of Bodie Island, Hatteras Island, and Ocracoke Island. Cape Lookout National S eashore study sites were located on South Core Island and North Core Island. Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge study site consisted only of the area called Pea Island. Study Sites This study was conducted at 3 different ar eas in North Carolina: Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Cape Lookout National S eashore, and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. Each site differed in size, nes ting activity, and, in so me cases, ORV use and regulation. The miles of beach open to ORV use varied from year to year. The only year with records kept for ORV use mileage wa s 2005 during which approximately 43 mi (69 km) were non-ORV and 87 mi (140 km) were OR V use. Any area within my study range on Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and Cape Lookout National Seashore was sampled for sea turtle nesting activity and eligible for selection for sampling sand and beach characteristics. Background Information on Cape Hatteras Cape Hatteras was the first National Seashore to join the U. S. National Park Service system in 1937. The bill approved by Congress stated that the Seashore should

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16 cover approximately 100 mi2 (approximately 256 km) of the Outerbanks (National Park Service: Expansion of the NPS in the 1930s (Cha pter 4) n. d.). The Park stretched from Bodie Island to Ocracoke Island and consis ted of 3 islands: Bodi e Island, Hatteras Island, and Ocracoke Island. There were 8 villag es along this stretch, which were not incorporated into the Park (N ational Park Service 1978). Figure 2-1. A typical weekend day in an OR V use area on Ocracoke Island of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Caro lina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Lindsay Nester. Cape Hatteras National Seashore was lo cated at the southern end of the Outerbanks and was broken into 3 districts. Th e district to the north was Bodie Island. It was about 15 mi (about 24 km) long and was c onnected to the island of Nagshead via a bridge. Nagshead was also connected to th e mainland via a bridge. The Bodie Island district had the lowest sea turtle nesting occu rrences (about 11 per year). There was little development and only a few Park residences on the beachfront. The middle district was Hatteras, and it was connected to Bodie Island by a highway. Hatteras was the largest of the 3 districts, and this was the location of the majority of sea turtle nesting activity in the

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17 Park. It was about 30 mi (about 48 km) long and averaged 45 nests per year. There was heavy residential development on the beachfront Ocracoke Island was the southern-most island. It was 14 mi (about 22 km) long and r eachable only by ferry. It averaged about 21 nests a year. The island had a small village located on the sound side and no beachfront development. When the Park was established, Congress prom ised residents would still be able to fish as a trade under the rules established by the Department of the Interior. Areas not well situated for recreation were to remain wild to preserve the natural floral and fauna. In 1938, the U. S. National Park Service expr essed their planned policy in the form of enabling legislation for managing the Seashor e. The primary purpose of the Seashore was recreation. It was the U. S. National Park Services intention to provide for all forms of beach recreation. The second priority of management was to protect the area for its historical, geological, forestr y, and wildlife features (National Park Service: Expansion of the NPS in the 1930s (Chapter 4) n. d.). Wh en this management policy was transcribed in the 1930s, there were no civi lian ORVs. So there was no mention of ORVs as a form of recreation or use with fishing. Background Information on Cape Lookout Cape Lookout was an undeveloped natural ba rrier island chain located to the south of Cape Hatteras. The Seashore estab lished on March 10, 1996, by Public Law 89-366 contained over 11,331 ha of land in central co astal North Carolina, USA. There was a back dune road behind the primary dune line th at was open to ORVs. Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout were similar, as they allowe d ORVs 24-hour beach access every day of the year. There was no ORV permitting system at either Park. Cape Lookout had 2

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18 concessionaires which transported vehicles and passengers. In addition, 8 other ferry services provided transportation for passengers only. Figure 2-2. A typical weekend day on Nort h Core Island of Cape Lookout National Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer 2004. Photo by Lindsay Nester. Cape Lookout started an island chain referre d to as the Core Banks and consisted of 4 main islands. North Core Island was about 22 mi (about 35 km) long and was reachable only by boat. Boats from Ocracoke Island transported tour groups and ATVs. Ferries from the mainland transported people an d cars. The ferries were commercial and charged at least $70 to bring over a vehicle. No rth Core Island averaged 48 nests a year. There were no permanent residences, but rental cabins with electricity were located on the beachfront. Middle Island was small and re achable only by private boat. There were no commercial or residential developments, but there was some ATV use. Turtles nested on Middle Island, but no one consis tently monitored this area. It was thought that less than 10 nests were laid per year. Mi ddle Island was excluded from my study. Shackleford Banks was located to the south of North and South Core Islands. ORV use was prohibited on this island. Due to lack of consistent turtle monitoring, Shackleford

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19 Island was excluded from this study. The sout hern-most island was called South Core. It was similar to North Core in size and accessibi lity, but exceeded North Core in nests laid. South Core averaged over 71 nests a year. Park employees lived in the lightkeepers house and a small cabin on the beachfront. Rent al cabins with electricity were available to the public. Background Information on Pea Island Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge was located between the Bodie Island and Hatteras Island districts of Cape Hattera s National Seashore. The Refuge was approximately 13 mi (about 20 km) long and received over 2.5 million visitors a year (U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Refuge Facts n. d.). The Refuge was open to public visitation during daytime hours. A nighttime fishing permit could be obtained from September 15 to May 31. Driving a motori zed or non-motorized vehicle was prohibited at all times on Refuge property (U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Refuge Regulations n. d.). Turtle activity was minimal in this area with only 0 to 10 l oggerhead nests a year. Figure 2-3. A typical weekend day on Pea Isla nd of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Lindsay Nester.

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20 Figure 2-4. Study sites in Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Pea Island Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina, USA.

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21 Figure 2-5. Study sites in Cape Lookout Na tional Seashore, North Carolina, USA.

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22 From June 1st to August 31st beginning at 6am I, along with Park Service and Refuge personnel, conducted a daily patrol on the shoreline of the entire length of each island or coastal area within the study sites. This patrol was carried out by ATV, truck, or foot depending on equipment availability and situation. On days the weather did not permit safe patrol, it was postponed. As c onditions improved, the patrol was continued and completed. Nesting Data Collection From 2003 to 2005, I collected nesting data on Ocracoke Island of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Nesting data collection for other study sites was completed by Park or Refuge personnel. When a sea turtle track was discovered, it was evaluated to determine the type of nesting event. Locations with evidence of turtle digging were carefully examined to determine if eggs were present. If egg presence was visually confirmed, the activity was recorded as a nest. If eggs were not located, but the turtle had dug a body pit showing signs of nest laying, the activity was recorded as a dig. A body pit was defined as a disturbance in the sand caused by a nesting female sea turtle. The nesting female dug a hole large enough for her body to rest in during the egg laying process. A dig was treated and marked as if it were a nest. After hatching, all activities marked as digs were determined to be either a nest or a false crawl. During daily checks, if a dig showed signs of hatching, the dig was recorded as a nest. If the dig did not show signs of hatching, the area would be dug up to determine the digs status. Turtle tracks with no evidence of digging or nesting we re recorded as false crawls, and these usually had a recognizable shape.

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23 Figure 2-6. Loggerhead false crawl on Ocr acoke Island of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Lindsay Nester. The species were determined by species specific crawl patterns. Data was recorded on the individual cr awl record form for most study sites. Leatherbacks made the largest crawl pattern and moved both front flippers at the same time. Green turtles had much smaller crawls than leatherbacks, but green turtles also moved both front flippers at the same time. Loggerhead turt les had crawl patterns a bout the same size as green turtles, but made altern ate flipper patterns. In addi tion, loggerheads rarely drug their tail through a crawl. The rarely seen Kemps crawl was much smaller than all other species. The Kemps crawl was generally ma de during the day and had alternate flipper patterns (Pritchard a nd Mortimer 1999).

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24 Figure 2-7. Green turtle craw l on Hatteras Island of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Jenn Snukis. Figure 2-8. Loggerhead turtle crawl on Ha tteras Island of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Jenn Snukis.

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25 The physical beach location of crawls wa s determined for each crawl, and the methods used varied from site to site. At Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout, Park staff used mile markers to determine physical location of crawls. Mile markers were numbered signs posted on the beach and corresponded to beach mileage. At Cape Lookout, markers were placed every mile. In contrast, mile markers occurred at every ORV ramp entrance on Cape Hatteras. The Cape Hatteras markers were numbered to correspond with beach mileage, but did not occu r every mile. When a crawl was found at Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras, the odomete r on a Park Service ATV or truck was zeroed. The vehicle was then driven to th e nearest mile marker and the distance determined. The distance, the mile marker number, and the directi on (north, south, east, or west) was logged. Physical locations on Pea Island were de termined by the distance from the Pea Island Refuge base of operation. This base wa s located at the Pea Island Visitor Center on Highway 12. The odometer on the U. S. Fi sh and Wildlife Service ATV was zeroed at the Pea Island Visitor Center. The distance from the visitor center to crawls along the beach was determined by odometer mileage. All data was recorded on a Crawl Record Sheet (Figure 2-9). The sea turtle management zone was de termined by the physical location using maps in the Handbook for Sea Turtle Volunteers in North Carolina Sea turtle management zones for the state of North Ca rolina start at the North Carolina Virginia border at mile 1. The numbers continue in 1 mile intervals throughout the state of North Carolina to the North Carolina South Carolina border. These numbers were created by the state of North Carolina to monitor sea tu rtle activity within the state. During my

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26 study period, staff at Cape Hatteras and Pea Isla nd recorded management zones. Staff at Cape Lookout discontinued the use of management zones be fore my study commenced. Figure 2-9. Crawl record data sheet from Handbook for Sea Turtle Volunteers in North Carolina, USA (North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission 2002).

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27 Figure 2-10. Map of sea turtle management zones for Cape Lookout National Seashore. Each tickmark equals 1 mile. Sea turtle ma nagement zones were determined for false crawl and nesting activities within Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Pea Island Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina, USA (North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission 2002). The Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) c oordinates were taken, recorded, and saved on the GPS unit. Typically, Park and Refuge personnel used physical location,

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28 rather than GPS coordinates, when returni ng to a nesting site. GPS coordinates were used to locate nests after major storm ev ents. Often major storm events removed temporary nest markers placed near the nest. If the activity was a dig, the coordinates were taken from the middle of the body pit. If immediate danger was determined, the nest was relocated. Nests were assessed for their danger of being lost due to erosion, overwash, or collapsing escarpment. At Cape Hatteras, nests were relocated from ORV areas to the closest area of non-ORV use. Non-ORV nests relocated at Cape Hatteras were moved to the nearest safe area of non-ORV use. At Cape Lookout, nests were relocated to areas designated for relocation. These areas were considered safe from overwash and did not disrupt ORV use. At P ea Island, nests were relo cated to designated areas deemed safe from overwash. The reloca ted nests at Pea Island, Cape Hatteras, and Cape Lookout were not used in the emergence success evaluation. I used physical locations and management zones to determine the best access point by ATV or truck during my sand and b each characteristic da ta collection. GPS locations were used to find the specific location of false crawls and nests during nighttime hours. I used data recorded at Cape Hatteras to determine whether a turtle activity was in an ORV or non-ORV area. Al l turtle activities at Pea Island were considered to be in non-ORV areas and turtle activities at Cape Lookout in ORV areas. Each turtle nest was marked and protected from human disturbance. The specific methods of marking varied with in the study area. At Cape Ha tteras sea turtle nests were marked using 4 carsonite or wooden signs (Fig ure 1-3). These signs stated Sea Turtle Nesting Area and No Entry. At Pea Is land, nests were marked with wooden post signs similar to those used at Cape Hattera s. Conversely, at Cape Lookout 2 white PVC

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29 pipes were placed on the ocean and dune side of the nest (Figure 2-11). The nests were also covered with a wire screen to prevent predator entry. After 55 days, when a nest approached its estimated hatching date, each closed area was expanded by moving signs from the origin al nest closure of a bout 4 ft x 4 ft (1.2 m x 1.2 m) to the area from the surf to appr oximately 30 ft (9 m) behind the nest. Pedestrians and ORVs were not allowed to enter this area. The North Carolina Handbook set forth the following guidelines for th e distance along the beach of the closed area: In non-ORV areas with little pedestrian use, the ar ea closed was expanded to 75 ft (about 22 m) wide from dune to ocean. This expanded area was approximately 37 ft (11 m) wide on either side of the nest. N on-ORV areas with high pedestrian use were expanded to 150 ft (about 45 m) from dune to ocean. This expanded area was approximately 75 ft (22 m) on each side of the nest. In all ORV use areas the closure was enlarged to 300 ft (about 91 m) or about 150 ft (45 m) on both sides of the nest. At Cape Hatteras, there were specific guidelines for turtle closures in most situations. If the nest was 30 ft (about 9 m) or more from the dune or vegetation, traffic was directed behind the nest with arrow signs that were visibl e at night If the nest was too close to the dune for redir ection, the whole area (dune to ocean) was closed to ORVs. In this case, ORVs would not be able to get around the nest. On Cape Lookout, the traffic was rerouted if possible be hind the nest to the back beach road located behind the primary dunes. Within most of the study area, tire ruts and footprints were removed by hand with a rake or broom in the area closed. If people or vehicles entered the closed area, new footprin ts or tire tracks were removed daily by staff conducting the morning patrol.

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30 Figure 2-11. Nest marking on South Core Is land of Cape Lookout National Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Lindsay Nester Hatching Data Collection Emergence was determined by the presence of hatchling tracks from the known nest location. After hatchlings emerged from the nest, the nest was excavated. The term excavation referred to diggi ng into the nest cavity and ev aluating the contents. If a mass emergence (a large number of hatchli ngs, usually 30 or more, leaving the nest cavity in 1 event) was determined, the nest was excavated 72 hours after emergence. If the emergence occurred over several days with fewer than 30 sea turtle hatchling tracks per day, the nest was excavated 120 hours after the first emergence. If nests experienced periods of heavy rain or ove rwash, the excavation was dela yed. These nests were not excavated until incubating for at least 90 da ys. After emergence occurred from an

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31 overwashed nest, a 120-hour wait was required rega rdless of the rate of emergence. The state of North Carolina required waiting peri ods that varied from 72 hours to 90 days to protect the natural environment w ithin the sea turtle nest cavity. Figure 2-12. Nest excavation on Hatteras Is land of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer 2004. Photo by Lindsay Nester The nests I excavated were inventoried (c ontents evaluated and counted), and the data recorded on the individual crawl record. I recorded number of w hole egg shells with more than half the egg intact (ES), number of whole unhatched e ggs (UH), number of

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32 pipped eggs with live or dead hatchlings (PE) number of dead hatchlings (DH), and the number of live hatchlings (LH). Pipped eggs are eggs that contai n hatchlings partially out of their shell. Sea turtle eggs are leathery and do not nor mally break into fine pieces upon hatching (Figure 2-12). I calculated the total clutch size (TCS) using the formula TCS = (PE + UH + ES). The emergence su ccess was calculated by (ES (LH + DH + PE + UH)) / TCS. This was a standard method for determining emergence success (Miller 1999, North Carolina Wildlif e Resources Comm ission 2002). Beach Characteristics Data Collection During the summer of 2005, I collected data on sand composition, sand compaction, sand color, sand temperature, lig ht intensity, pedestrian activity, beach width, ORV use, and beach slope. I gathered da ta for all of these f actors, except light intensity and sand composition, 3 different times during the 2005 season for Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras. Light intensities were measured once at each site during the 2005 nesting season. Sand composition data was collected daily. Pea Island was added to the study in August of 2005 and was sampled only once. Each island was sampled every 3 weeks for a total of 3 times. Sampling consisted of recording information on sand compacti on, sand temperature, pedestrian activity, beach width, and slope. Any nest and false crawl sites from the previous 3 weeks were eligible for sampling, and a random sample c hosen from among this set. A number representing each nest and false crawl site was written on similar-si zed pieces of paper, and 12 papers were blindly selected as sampli ng sites. If the location was within 0.4 km from an area previously sampled, I did not sample that area again. An additional

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33 numbered piece of paper was not selected for a sampling site. Some weeks, this resulted in less than 12 sites sampled. Sand samples for composition analysis we re taken the following morning after a nest was laid from some nests and false crawls during the 2005 season. A sample of approximately 120 g was taken from the mid-s ection of the body pit. A study has shown that sand mixes well, and sand particle size does not differ significantly with sea turtle nesting depth (Bert et al. 2002). If the eggs were relocated, the sample was taken from the bottom of the cavity. If the nesting activ ity was a false crawl, the sample was taken from the apex of the crawl. For all samples, the dry top layer of sand was removed and the jar inserted into the sand. The jars had a ti ght seal and were tested for their ability to maintain moisture content. I brought the jars to the lab and recorded the initial weight to the nearest tenth of a gram. Before viable samples were opened, I experimented with 14 jars of samples from an island in the Core Banks that was not used in my study. I determined that 6 hours of drying at 125o C was adequate to remove all water that could be removed by evaporation and for the sample to reach a constant weight. The samples were opened and placed into a drying oven at 1250 C for 6 hours. The samples were then closed, cooled, and weighed at room temperat ure to determine water content. Moisture content of the sand was determined by weight lost in grams during the drying process. I placed 100 g of dry sample into a mechanical sand shaker with varying sieve sizes for 4 minutes. The sieve sizes used were: size 18 (1.00 mm), size 35 (500 m), size 60 (250 m), and size 120 (125 m). I logged the weight of sand retained by each sieve size (Blott and Pye 2001). I was advised on sand analysis procedure by Mario Mota (Mota unfinished).

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34 Sand color was determined using the Munsell Soil Color Charts. The sand samples were matched to the color chips on the chart for hue, value, and chroma. Hue indicated the colors relationshi p to red, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Value specified the colors lightness. Chroma designated its st rength or departure from the neutral color of the same lightness. Sand compaction was determined with the use of a penetrometer from the Ben Meadows Company soil compaction tester with a model number 6JB-221005 and a gauge from 50 psi to 500 psi. I inserted the penetrometer to a depth of 6 cm. Two readings were taken 1.5 m from the false crawl or nest on each side of the activity (north to south). If the activity was a false crawl, I took readings 3 m from the tideline. If the activity was a nest, I took readings directly parallel to the north and south of the nest. Figure 2-13. Penetrometer being used to de termine the compaction and psi for a false crawl on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Jill Smith

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35 I took light intensity (irradia nce) measurements at night using the IL1700 Research Radiometer from International Light. The Ra diometer range was over a 10 billion to 1 watts/cm^2 dynamic. Two spectral bandwidths were used measuring light intensity at 300-500 nm (bluish) and 545-700 nm (orange-ye llowish) in watts/cm^2. I took readings at Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras approxima tely every 5 km along the shoreline within a few days of the new moon. The readings for Pea Island were taken a week after the new moon. I placed the light meter at tu rtle eye level (approximately 0.3 m off the ground) at the high tide mark on the beach. The light meter was facing toward the primary dune line to simulate a sea turtles ne sting approach. Three readings were taken at every location using both a 300-500 nm and 545-700 nm bandwidths. The amount of pedestrian use was determined by counting footprints in an area. I walked and counted pedestrian tracks along 2 transects for each area sampled. Transects were 9 m on either side (north to south) of the nest or false crawl. This procedure was followed in order to limit the number of turtle patrol footprints included in the count. Transects were established by dropping a tape measure from dune to tideline. The number of pedestrian tracks that physically intersected (touc hed) the tape measure were recorded. In order to control for subjectiv ity of counts, I made all observations. The width of the beach was taken from dune or primary vegetation line to tideline at each nest or false crawl location. I took m easurements with a plastic tape measure at a variety of times within the tide cycle. Th e tape measure was placed at the primary dune line and the other end of the tape measure ta ken to the tideline following the shortest route perpendicular to the dune and ocean.

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36 Figure 2-14. Footprint touching a transect line for pedestrian counts. Photo by Paul Nester. The beach width was standardized to m ean high tide using the formula (most recent high tide mean high tide at location) /sin(slope). The most recent high tide was determined from the tidal table on the day a nd time of recording widths (Pentcheff 2006). The mean high tide at the location was 1.056 ft (0.32 m) above tide datum at given tide location. The (+ or ) deviation above or below mean high tide was then added to the observed widths. This resulted in adjustments of -13 ft (4 m) to +27 ft (8 m) to standard beach width. The numbers of ORVs on the shoreline at night were recorded on 3 Friday nights during the loggerhead sea turtle nesting season. Each island was driven once from south to north, and the number of vehicles recorded. ATVs and ORVs were logged separately.

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37 All terrain vehicles, usua lly with 4 wide tires, were refe rred to as ATVs in my study. Vehicles were included in the counts regardle ss of motion or headlight use. Counts were conducted between 10pm and 2am. Beach slope was determined using a plasti c board and a protractor. I placed the board at the tideline in front of each nesting and false crawl activity. The mid-part of the board was located at the tideline, and the protractor was read from this location. Figure 2-15. Slope being determined for a false crawl on Ocracoke Island at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Caro lina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Jill Smith. I took sand temperatures to the nearest te nth of a degree Celsius for all selected nesting activities that were not relocated. Two readings were take n for every nest 1.5 m on either side of the nest (nor th to south). A thermometer wa s attached to a plastic probe and inserted to sea turtle incubation depth of 50 cm. Temperature data collection was

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38 gathered between 10pm and 2am. There wa s no need to adjust for time of data collection, due to the fact that the temperatur e remains close to constant at an incubation depth of 50 cm (Matsuzawa et al. 2002). Statistical Analysis The nesting and false crawl data was compiled for the 2000-2005 study period, and I labeled each nest or false crawl ORV or non-ORV. Pea Islands activities were labeled non-ORV and Cape L ookouts activities were labele d ORV. Cape Hatteras activities were labeled either ORV or non-ORV depending on location. A washout was defined as a nest that was at least partially lost to the sea. If a nest was partially or totally lost to the tide, I entered the re sponse yes into the appropriate column. Overwash was defined as a nest that was at least partially covered by the tide at some point during incubation. Unlike washout, no eggs were physically lost to the tide. If a nest received any amount of overwash duri ng incubation, the response yes was entered into the overwash column. Fre quencies, chi squares, and logi stic models were all carried out using SAS software (SAS Institute 2001). T-tests and standard least squares models were conducted in the JMP software (SAS Inst itute 2004). I verified all assumptions for each analysis. The graph of incubation period in days by site type was made using the JMP software (SAS Institute 2004). The gr aph displayed every da ta point for ORV and non-ORV beaches as black squares. The green diamonds represented the means of the ORV and non-ORV incubation periods. The bl ue lines represented the grand means for both site types. Sand and beach characteristics were associated with the nest or false crawl from the same location during the 2005 s eason. Light data was matched to the 2 nearest GPS coordinates for nests and false crawls. The amount of light measured for each of the

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39 bandwidths (545-700 nm and 300-500 nm) was aver aged between the 2 closest points of collection. As a result of stringent criteri a of nest selection for temperature data gathering, a large enough sample size was not ob tained for use in any model analysis. False Crawl and Nesting Laying ( 1) I created frequencies and ch i-square tables for all activities (false crawls and nests) for 2000-2005. Input from a statistic al advisor was utilized in making these tables. (2) A stepwise logistic regre ssion using model success as nest being the activity type present was used for the 2005 nesting and false crawl data. The sand characteristics (sand size 18, 35, 60, and 120, along with water content), beach characteristics (slope, compaction, pede strian use, and width), and light characteristics (545-700 nm and 300-500 nm ) were all evaluated in separate models. Each of the 3 models contained se ts of variables that were recorded at various locations and at different times during the 2005 sea turtle nesting season. Each model was checked for multiple co-lin earity of variables, and there was none present. ( 3) I ran a stepwise logistic regression us ing model success as nest representing the activity type for 2000-2005 nesting data. Year of false crawl or nest laying was also incorporated into this model. Emergence Success (4) Data on emergence success was sorted, and the data was removed for nests that were relocated, overwashed, or washedout. Ne xt, a T-test of the means was used to determine statistical significance. (5) I hypothesized that the sand and beach characteristics would not significantly affect emergence success. (6) It was hypothesized that emergence woul d vary during my 6 year study period. As a result of the conclusions to th e fourth hypothesis th e emergence success analysis was not conducted for the fifth and sixth hypotheses. Incubation (7) Using a T-test, I ascertained the means of the 2 site types (ORV and non-ORV) for 2000-2005 nesting data with determined incubation periods. Incubation days were calculated from the date a nest was la id to the first emergence of hatchlings. Relocated nests were excluded from this part of the analysis.

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40 (8) Standard least squares models were constructed for the 2000-2005 nesting data that contained the number of incubati on days excluding relocated nests. I examined the effect on incubation period of beaches with ORV use and beaches with non-ORV use in terms of beach charac teristics and sand ch aracteristics. I examined the variables: beach characteri stics, slope, compaction, pedestrian use, width, and date laid in the model. Date laid was expressed in a format called Julian day, the day of the year with numbers 1 through 365. January 1, 2006 was written as 2006001. Sand sieve size 18, 35, 60, and 120, along with water content, and date laid were the sand characteristics included in the sand characteristics model. The process is explained below using groups to sp ecify variables and individual models in Table 2-1. Each of th e 3 models contains sets of variables that were recorded at different locations and at various times during the 2005 sea turtle nesting season. Each model was checked for multiple co-linearity of variables, and there was none present. Table 2-1. Least squares model for incubati on period and specified variables. The Groups 1 through 3 represent separate models involving incubation period. Group 1 Size 18 sand Size 35 sand Size 60 sand Size 120 sand Water weight Date laid Group 2 Date laid Slope Compaction Pedestrian activity Width Group 3 Date laid Site type Year Site type*year*day (9) I constructed another standard leas t squares model for the 2000-2005 nesting data that contained the number of incuba tion days excluding relocated nests. The year, date laid, and site t ype, along with the interacti ons between all 3 were the variables entered into the mode l. The date laid was used in a T-test along with site type for all nests during the 2000-2005 nesting seasons.

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41 Table 2-2. Variables and their definitions us ed in my study on the effects of ORV use on loggerhead sea turtle nesting activity. Variable Definition Size 18 sand The proportion of sand in grams found in the size 18 sieve out of the total 100g of sample used. 18 was the largest grain size sieve used. Size 35 sand The proportion of sand in grams found in the size 35 sieve out of the total 100g of sample used. Size 60 sand The proportion of sand in grams found in the size 60 sieve out of the total 100g of sample used. Size 120 sand The proportion of sand in grams found in the size 120 sieve out of the total 100g of sample used. 120 was the smallest grain size sieve used. Water content The amount of sand moisture content in grams found by the difference in weight before and after drying (moisture removal). Site type ORV and non-ORV Pedestrian use The amount of footprints that physically touched a transect line. Slope The angle in degrees of the beach at the tideline at false crawl and nest locations. Width The length in feet of dry sand between the tideline and the primary dune line. Compaction The hardness of the beach at 6cm in psi. Light: 545-700 nm Light intensity measured in watts/cm2 using the spectral bandwidth 545700 nm. Light: 300-500 nm Light intensity measured in watts/cm2 using the spectral bandwidth 300500 nm. Date laid Date of year nest laid from 1 to 365. Year Year of nest or false crawl. Site type*year*day Interaction between ORV use, y ear of nest laid, and day of year nest laid. Standardized width The length in feet of dry sand between the tideline and the primary dune line, standardized to mean high tide using the formula (most recent high tide mean high tide at location) /sin(slope). Temperature Temperature of nest at incubation depth (50cm) in degrees C. Chroma A part of color that designated its strength or departure from the neutral color of the same lightness. Habitat Quality (10) Frequency and chi-square tables were created for all nests from 2000-2005 with a yes or no response to relocation. (11) I synthesized frequency and chi-square tables for all nests from 2000-2005 with a yes or no response to overw ash or washout. A logistic stepwise regression analysis was carried out for ove rwash and washout with width and site type for the 2005 nests containing widths Using Hatteras data only for the 20002005 nesting seasons, a T-test was conducte d for the emergence success with and

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42 without overwash and the emergence succe ss with and without washout. Only Hatteras data was used in this analysis because Cape Hatteras contained areas of both ORV and non-ORV use. Sand and Beach Characteristics (12) and (13) I constructed T-tests of th e means for all sand and beach characteristics for the 2 site types using the 2005 data. A T-test was made for the adjusted widths with site type.

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43 CHAPTER 3 RESULTS In the sections that follow (False Cr awl and Nest Laying, Emergence Success, Incubation, and Habitat Quality), there was an island effect. I expected there would be natural variation between these factors on different islands. The islands used in my study were in the same geographic area with similar natural characteristics which minimized the island effect. The primary reason island variation analysis was not feasible was due to the fact that some islands containe d only ORV use areas, while another island contained only non-ORV use areas and the remaining islands c ontained both site types. Due to the nature of my study and its goal of evaluating the effects of ORV use on these islands, it was not possible to take island variat ion into effect in the statistical analysis. False Crawl and Nesting Laying In the First Hypothesis, I stated the fa lse crawl percentages would be higher on ORV beaches I found my hypothesis was true at my study locations. ORV beaches had a 51% occurrence of false crawls. Non-ORV beaches had 40% occurrence of false crawls (X2 = 16.55, df = 1, n = 2261, and p =< 0.0001). In the Second Hypothesis, I proposed th at sand, beach, and light characteristics would not significantly influence the occurren ce of a nest. I eval uated this hypothesis using stepwise logistic regression. The sand characteristics were all found not significant at the 0.05 level. ORV use approached significa nce in the beach characteristics model. Two variables, 300-500 nm bandwidth light in tensity and site type (ORV and non-ORV), were found significant at the 0.05 level for the light characteristics model. The second

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44 hypothesis was supported for beach and sand charac teristics, but not for light presence. When date laid was added to the models, no change in significance was noted for the sand and light characteristics models. In the beach characteristics model, when date laid was added in with the original variables minus site type, width was significance with a pvalue of 0.0274 (n = 104, R2 = 0.0639). There was a strong correlation between width and site type. Because of the near significance (i. e. p< 0.06, see Group 3, Table 3-1) of the pvalue in the light characteristics model fo r light in the 545-700 nm bandwidth, and the significant difference found for light in the 300-500 nm range, I conducted an additional test to assess separately whether ligh t in the 300-500 nm bandwidth and 545-700 nm bandwidth was significantly different for ORV and non-ORV beaches. An independent two-tailed T-test for the 545-700 nm light s howed no significant difference between ORV and non-ORV beaches 0.77 (n = 398, t = 0.04 df = 396). However, light in the 300-500 nm range was significantly greater (t = 3.05, and p = 0.002) on non-ORV beaches ( X = 4.51 X 10-13, sd = 1.19 X 10-12) than on ORV beaches ( X = 4.51 X 10-13, sd = 4.69 X 1013). My Third Hypothesis was that the ratio of false crawls to nests would vary during the 6 year study period. A stepwise logi stic regression confirmed this hypothesis (p<0.0001, X2 = 21.56, n = 2244, df = 1). Emergence Success A difference in emergence success on ORV and non-ORV beaches was my Fourth Hypothesis. Data on emergence succe ss were sorted, and th e data for relocated, overwashed, or washedout nests were discar ded. An independent two-tailed T-test found no significant differences for the mean emergence success on ORV and non-ORV

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45 beaches. Due to the support of the null hypothesis, no additional analysis was carried out. Table 3-1. Results for 2005 nesting season for ne st and false crawl occurrences in logistic models with the following variable s: Group 1 Sand Char acteristics, Group 2 Beach Characteristics, Group 3 Light: Intensity. Variable n X2 p Group 1 Size 18 sand 1310.02 0.90 Size 35 sand 1310.001 0.98 Size 60 sand 1310.003 0.96 Size 120 sand 1311.23 0.27 Water content 1310.02 0.89 Site type 1310.001 0.97 Group 2 Pedestrian use 1080.58 0.45 Slope 1080.93 0.34 Width 1080.91 0.34 Compaction 1081.83 0.18 Site type 1083.54 0.06 Group 3 Light: 545-700 nm 3983.54 0.06 Light: 300-500 nm 3986.45 0.01 Site type 39818.73 <.0001 Incubation My Seventh Hypothesis was that the nu mber of incubation days would vary between nests laid on ORV and non-ORV beach es. An independent one-tailed T-test found that nests laid on ORV beaches had a significantly longer (t =2.29, p = 0.02) incubation period in days ( X = 64.5 days, SD = 0.38) than did nests laid on non-ORV beaches ( X = 62.8 days, SD = 6.13). I predicted that sand and beach characte ristics would not significantly influence days of incubation in my Eighth Hypothesis In the standard least squares model for sand characteristics, (Table 3-2, Group 1) date laid was the only significant variable with a p-

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46 value of 0.01 (adjusted R2 = 0.72, f = 4.02, n = 131). The standard least squares model of beach characteristics found none of the variable s significant (Table 3-2). Chroma of sand coloration was also not a significant variable affecting incubation time. Figure 3-1. 2000-2005 Incubation peri ods in days for loggerhead sea turtle nests at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Cape Lookout National Seashore, and Pea Island Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina, USA by site type (ORV and non-ORV).

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47 The Ninth Hypothesis was that there woul d be annual variation in the number of incubation days during the 6 year study period. I used a stan dard least squares model to evaluate this hypothesis. My hypothesis was correct, and all variables were significant (Table 3-2, Group 3). Table 3-2. 2005 Incubation period in days di splayed in least squares models for the following variables: Group 1 Sand Characteristics, Group 2 Beach Characteristics, Group 3 Date laid, Year, and Site type Adjusted R2 F-value p-value Group 1 n = 47 0.72 Size 18 sand 2.640.14 Size 35 sand 2.430.15 Size 60 sand 2.900.12 Size 120 sand 2.690.13 Water content 0.450.52 Date laid 4.020.01 Group 2 n = 28 0.68 Date laid 2.950.15 Slope 2.340.20 Compaction 2.530.19 Pedestrian activity 1.130.35 Width 0.510.51 Group 3 n = 517 0.54 Date laid 22.76<0.0001 Site type 25.26<0.0001 Year 20.02<0.0001 Site type*year*day 4.140.001 Due to the fact that date laid was a si gnificant factor influencing the length of incubation, I hypothesized that the mean date of nest laying was di fferent for ORV and non-ORV beaches. An independent T-test re jected this hypothesis. However, an independent T-test rejected this assertion in favor of the null h ypothesis (p = 0.18, df = 1156, t = 1.34).

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48 Habitat Quality My Tenth Hypothesis stated that the percen tage of relocated ne sts would be greater for non-ORV beaches. However, the frequenc y for nests relocated on ORV beaches was 49%, compared to 42% on non-ORV beaches. A chi-square analysis determined that designation of a beach for ORV use or non-OR V use was a significant factor influencing the proportion of nests relocated (p = <0.0001, X2 = 56.81, n = 1119, df = 1). My Eleventh Hypothesis was that overwa sh and washout percentages would be greater on non-ORV beaches. Chi-square analysis revealed that designation as ORV or non-ORV use was a significant factor re lated to both overwash (n = 1064, X2 = 81.84, and p = <.0001) and washout (n = 1084, X2 = 8.86, p = 0.003) of nests on a beach. The frequency of nests overwashed in ORV us e areas was 16% wher eas nests in non-ORV areas had a 44% overwash occurrence. Simila rly, the frequency of washout occurrence for nests in ORV use areas was 14%, and the occurrence of washout in non-ORV areas was 22%. Thus, the likelihood of overw ash and washout was greater on non-ORV beaches. I tested an additional hypothesis to determ ine if overwash and washout of nests was greater on narrower beaches. However, in th e stepwise logistic model for width, site type, overwash, and washout, none of the variab les were significant at the 0.05 level. I also hypothesized that washedout and overwashed nests have lower emergence success at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Cape Hatteras contai ned the only group of islands with both ORV and non-ORV use areas. In addition, I wanted to evaluate Cape Hatteras proposal to increase the number of nests relocated from ORV use areas to nonORV use areas. An independent one-tailed T-test confirmed my hypothesis. Emergence success of nests ( X = 63.82%, sd = 37.00) without overwash had a mean of 63.82 and a

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49 standard deviation of 37.00. Emergence su ccess with overwash had a mean of 28.87 and a standard deviation of 40.60 (t = 6.76 a nd p = <.0001). Emergence success without washout had a mean of 63.42 and a standard deviation of 36.92. Emergence success with washout had a mean of 0.04 and a standard deviation of 0.33 (t = 23.97 and p = <.0001). Sand and Beach Characteristics In Hypothesis 12, I stated that the sand ch aracteristics (sand size distribution and water content) would not be significantly different between ORV and non-ORV beaches. Only sand sieve size 120 had significant di fferences for ORV and non-ORV beaches. An independent two-tailed T-test for ORV b eaches had a mean of 0.36 and a standard deviation of 2.98. Non-ORV beaches had a m ean of 0.28 and standard deviation of 1.75 for sand sieve size 120 (t = 2.05 and p = 0.046). In the first part of Hypothesis 13, I propos ed that the beach characteristic slope would not differ significantly between ORV a nd non-ORV beaches. The results affirmed my hypothesis (Table 3-3, Group 2). The second part of the hypothe sis stated that the remaining beach characteristics (width, wi dth adjusted for tidal variation, sand compaction, sand temperature, and pedestrian us e) would differ between the 2 site types. Pedestrian activity, width, and standardized width differed significantly between ORV and non-ORV beaches (Table 3-3). After widths were standardized to mean high tide, a change of 0.2 m for ORV beach width and 0.06 m for non-ORV beach width was noted. Whether widths were analyzed as observed in the field or standardized to mean high tide, ORV beaches were significantly wider (Table 3-3). The third part of Hypothesis 13 stated that temperature for non-ORV beaches wo uld be significantly greater. The t-value for beach temperature at incubation dept h was -2.661 and p-value was 0.0057. This hypothesis was supported by an indepe ndent T-test (Table 3-3).

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50 Based on a subjective visual assessment of all the beaches, I decided to test an additional hypothesis that sand color w ould not differ between ORV and non-ORV beaches. This hypothesis was confirmed for both hue and chroma. Only 2 samples out of 125 were not light gray in hue. Those hue s were gray and grayish brown, both within the gray color family. The hue values for both ORV and non-ORV beaches were found to be 7 on the Munsell Color Chart. An inde pendent two-tailed T-test analysis of chroma found no significant difference between the means (p = 0.37 and t = -0.90). The mean of chroma of sand samples from ORV use area s was 1.82 and a standard deviation of 0.04. Chroma of samples from non-ORV use areas ha d a mean of 1.90 and a standard deviation of 0.08. Table 3-3. 2005 Results from nesting and false crawl locations for the following variables by Site Type (ORV and non-ORV): Group 1 Sand Characteristics, Group 2 Beach Characteristics for Cape Hatte ras National Seashore, Cape Lookout National Seashore, and Pea Island Wild life Refuge, North Carolina, USA. ORV non-ORV Variable X SD X SD t p Group 1 n=131 Size 18 sand 0.0455 0.08089 0.07054 0.1449 -0.905 0.3716 Size 35 sand 0.11141 0.09393 0.14659 0.1423 -1.274 0.2105 Size 60 sand 0.46644 0.1419 0.48292 0.161 -0.505 0.6158 Size 120 sand 0.36301 0.17909 0.28416 0.1871 2.047 0.0464 Water content 3.2902 2.97872 2.95937 1.7461 0.7749 0.4404 Group 2 n=103 Slope 5 43.2353 6.0625 3.9833 1.752 0.0827 Compaction 132.014 46.4484 125.438 41.218 0.7251 0.4709 Pedestrian use 2.67568 7.74085 8.5625 9.2464 -3.155 0.0013 Width 179.335 75.0232 120.732 36.43 5.3331 <0.0001 Standardized width 180.072 74.8936 120.49 35.24 5.4858 <0.0001 Temperature 27.3130 0.95003 28.3094 1.39227 -2.661 0.0057

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51 ORV Counts I counted vehicles present on the beach on 3 Friday nights for each island in the study except Pea Island. Pea Island had a st rongly-enforced non-ORV use policy and no entrance ramps for ORVs. During the 2005 season on Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras, only a single occurrence of a non-authorized ORV in the non-ORV area was observed. However, non-ORV areas were driven r outinely by Park personnel such as law enforcement. There was much less ORV us e on non-ORV beaches than ORV designated beaches (Table 3-4). Table 3-4. ORV counts during 2005 sea turtle nest ing season for Cape Hatteras (Ocracoke, Hatteras, and Bodie Islands) and Cape Lookout (South Core and North Core Islands) National Seashores, North Caroli na, USA. Park management at North Core and South Core Islands allow both AT V and ORV use. In contrast, staff at Ocracoke, Hatteras, and Bodi e Islands allow ORV use only. Island Date ATV ORV North Core 6/10/2005 6 12 Ocracoke Island 6/17/2005 7 Hatteras island 6/17/2005 47 Bodie Island 6/17/2005 10 South Core 6/24/2005 4 23 North Core 7/1/2005 5 25 Bodie Island 7/8/2005 10 Hatteras island 7/8/2005 17 South Core 7/15/2005 2 15 North Core 7/22/2005 13 6 Ocracoke Island 7/28/2005 38 Bodie Island 7/29/2005 30 Hatteras island 7/29/2005 14 South Core 8/5/2005 2 11

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52 CHAPTER 4 DISCUSSION Sand and Beach Characteristics In order to determine the effect of ORV us e on nesting and nest success, it first was necessary to determine whether ORV and non-ORV beaches differed in other characteristics that might affect these outco mes. With the exception of sand sieve size 120, ORV and non-ORV study sites had similar sa nd composition (Table 3-3). However, sand grain size was not a signi ficant factor in determini ng the relationship between nesting and false crawls on ORV vers us non-ORV beaches (Table 3-1). In some studies, nesting sea turtles favored finer grained sand types for nest laying locations (Hendrickson and Balasingham 1966, Karavas et al. 2005). Conversely, the lack of significance of sand grain size in nest site selection in my study was consistent with several previous studies (Hirth and Carr 1970, Hirth 1971, Hughes 1974, Mortimer 1995, Stancyk and Ross 1978). The loggerheads ne st site selection in my study was not significantly dependent upon sand grain size. I found greater amounts of pedestrian ac tivity on non-ORV beaches (Table 3-3), perhaps indicating that pedestrians prefe rred non-ORV beaches. Although I initially assumed that pedestrian activity might affect nesting or nest su ccess (Arianoutsou 1988), this was not the case in my study (Tables 3-1 and 3-2). This might be expected in the event that most pedestrian use on non-ORV b eaches occurred during daylight hours when turtles were not present. This could be determined with additional study.

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53 As expected, beach widths were greater on ORV beaches. This was probably a direct result of the procedure used to designa te beaches for ORV use. On Cape Hatteras National Seashore width was the major criter ion used for designating a beach for ORV use. Any area with 46 m of dry beach (bet ween high tide and vegetation) was open to ORV use with a few exceptions. There was an area closed to ORV use for historic purposes immediately in front of Cape Hattera s Lighthouse. Other ar eas could be closed seasonally for wildlife or pedestrian use (N ational Park Service 1978). For example, a closure for sea turtle nesting habitat is defined as an ar ea of high-quality nesting habitat that was closed prior to any sea turtle nest ing attempt of the season. However, to my knowledge, there has never been a closure for sea turtle nesting habitat, although there have been temporary closures of short secti ons of a beach during an expected hatchling emergence event. Thus, non-ORV beaches were, by definition, only relatively narrow beaches. Beach slope was found not to be a significan t factor related to nesting or incubation period. This was consistent with a previous study (AlKindi et al. 2003). However, other studies suggested that slope wa s a significant factor in nest site selection (Provancha and Ehrhart 1987, Horrocks and Scott 1991, Wood and Bjorndal 2000). However, slope did not differ significantly between ORV and nonORV beaches in my study (Table 3-3). One study has shown there may be a correla tion between moisture content of sand and nest site selection (Hitchi ns et al. 2003). On the othe r hand, other studies of the effect of sand moisture conten t on nest site selection have shown no relationship (Stancyk and Ross 1978, Wood and Bjorndal 2000). Yet, th e point may be moot, as there was no

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54 significant difference in sand moisture c ontent between ORV and non-ORV beaches in my study (Table 3-3). Although information on sand temperatur e was not available for my beach characteristics model for 2000-2005, prior studies have not shown a significant effect of sand temperature on nest laying (Wood and Bjorndal 2000). In the 2005 nesting season, my study showed a significant difference be tween sand temperatures on ORV and nonORV beaches during the time eggs were being incubated (Table 3-3). This effect is discussed in the Incubation section below. False Crawl and Nest Laying ORV use was a highly significant factor a ffecting the proportion of nests and false crawls. The variable ORV use had a greate r impact on false crawl percentages than all sand and beach characteristics. Light in the 300-500 nm bandwidth is know n to affect adult and hatchling sea turtles (Bartol and Musick 2003, Gould 1998, Witherington 1992). My study focused only on the effects of light on adult sea turtles. One study on the effect of artificial lighting and nest site selec tion of adult female loggerheads found no correlation between these factors (Kikukawa et al. 1999). In c ontrast, 2 other studies found that artificial lighting deterred nesting females (Withe rington 1992, Salmon et al. 1995). ORV use was a significant f actor in my study and had a more significant p-value than 300-500 nm light. There were signifi cantly greater amounts of 300-500 nm light in non-ORV areas. The significance of 300-500 nm light in my study was likely to be influenced by the significant relationship of 300-500 nm light to site type. The greater amount of light on non-ORV beaches does not s eem to explain the higher percentage of

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55 nests to false crawls on non-ORV beaches. The data supported the presence or absence of ORVs as the greatest factor a ffecting false crawl and nest laying. The annual variation observed in the nes ting activity in my study (Table 3-2) was in accordance with known sea turtle nesting be havior. Several studies have shown that loggerhead sea turtles returned to nest at intervals of 2 to 3 years (Frazer 1984, Richardson and Richardson 1995, Ruitrago 1984). Emergence Success and Habitat Quality Emergence success was the onl y nesting activity factor not to reflect significant influence from ORV use. Howeve r, it is essential to note th at my analysis of emergence success was conducted only after removing from the analysis the relocated, overwashed, and washedout nests. When considering thes e nests, the emergence success of nests may become problematic. The permits which allowed nests in my st udy area to be relocated stated specific requirements. The permits gave permission fo r relocation of nests in serious jeopardy of being lost to the tide or buried under a co llapsing escarpment. Assuming all relocations of nests in the study area occurred legally under these permits from 2001-2005; the nests in ORV areas were in greater jeopardy of be ing lost. From personal observation in 2003, 2004, and 2005, most of the nests selected for relocation were not in danger of being buried under collapsing escarpments, but may have been located in areas of potential tidal overwash. Turtles crawling on ORV beaches with deep tire ruts did not dig their nests as far from the tideline as turtles on beaches with fewer or no ruts. Turtles attempting to nest on a beach with deep ruts may crawl pa rallel to the tire ruts (which usually run parallel to ocean) until giving up and returning to the sea or laying a nest near the tideline

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56 (personal observation). Perh aps this helps to explain w hy the frequency of relocated nests on ORV beaches (49%) was significantl y different from non-ORV beaches (42%). My study indicated that both overwashed a nd washedout nests have significantly lower average emergence successes (29% and 4% respectively) than nests not subjected to these factors (63-64%). Thus, overwash cut success in le ss than half, while washout reduced success to almost zero. These findings supported what was known about sea turtle nesting and the effect s of tidal inundation (water from the ocean washing over a nest) (Baskale and Kaska 2005). Perhaps more importantly, I found that nests laid on non-ORV beaches had a significantly greater occurrence of being overwashed or wash edout than those laid on ORV beaches (44% versus 16% for overwash; 14% versus 22% for washout). Even though nests in non-ORV areas had a statistical ly similar mean success when the factors of relocation, washout, and overwash were removed, the overall emergence success of nests laid on non-ORV beaches was much lower when all nests were considered. Habitat quality should be a determining f actor for relocation site selection. Even though beach width was not a statistic al factor in overwash and washout, the selection of only narrower beaches for non-ORV us e seems not to benefit turtle recovery. It appears logical that a narro w beach would be more subjec t to tidal inundation than a wider beach of similar slope. The effect of beach width on nest emergence success should be studied in greater detail, without the confounding effects of relocated nests and ORV use versus non-ORV use, in order to determine whether nests laid on narrower beaches are at high risk of low emergence success.

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57 Length of Incubation and Possible ex Ratio Effects The length of time (number of days) that eggs incubate in a nest is a factor that may be of considerable importance. The 2 day di fference in incubation periods for nests laid on ORV and non-ORV beaches (Figure 4-1), was not significantly related to any of the beach or sand characteristics. Although both th e year of nest laid a nd the date laid were shown to be significantly rela ted to incubation duration, th ese variations are to be expected in any in situ nesting study (Estes et al. 2003). In my study, however, there was no significant difference in the mean date of nests laid on ORV versus non-ORV beaches. On the other hand, ORV use was significantly related to incubation period, most probably due to differences in sand temperat ure between ORV and non-ORV beaches. Temperature at incubation depth (50 cm) was significantly lower on ORV beaches. This most likely explains why ORV beaches had longer incubation periods. The factors that typically affect temperature on beach es are: slope, sand color, and compaction (Hayes et al. 2001). However, none of thes e factors differed significantly between ORV and non-ORV beaches, nor were any of them significant when analyzed in models for effect on incubation period. The results of my study thus indicate that ORV use is a factor affecting incubation period. Due to the temperature dependent sex determ ination of sea turtle s, variations in incubation period could be indicative of se rious effects on the population. Warmer incubation temperatures during the sex determ ining stage produce females (Godfrey et al. 2003, Merchant-Larios 2001). It has been demonstrated that lower incubation temperatures generally result in longer incu bation times, and that incubation time is thus related to the sex ratio produced for loggerheads nesting in th e southeastern United States (Godfrey and Mrosovsky 1997. Thus, for a given incubation period in days, it is possible

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58 to estimate the percentages of females pr oduced. As shown in Figure 4-1, the 2 day reduction in incubation period I observed on ORV beaches as compared to non-ORV beaches results in an expected decline fr om 35% to 28% females produced (Godfrey and Mrosovsky 1997). This represents a 20% decl ine in the numbers of females produced ([35-28]/35 = 0.2). Figure 4-1. Expected change in percentage s of females due to mean temperature differences between ORV and non-ORV beaches in North Carolina, USA from sex ratio/temperature rela tionship (Godfrey and Mrosovsky 1997). At first glance, 20% may not seem lik e a significant alteration, but further consideration of sea turtle natural histor y and population trends reveals this is a substantial skew of sex ratios. Loggerhead sea turtles are already in a population decline and listed as threatened. A skewed sex rati o in such a long-lived, late-maturing species could take decades to become evident in redu ced numbers of nesting females, especially in an area of relatively low-density nesting su ch as North Carolina. If this skewed sex ratio has slowly increased over time (as ORV use on beaches increased during the past Key Blue line non-ORV Yellow line ORV

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59 several decades), it may cause damage to the population that would be difficult and perhaps impossible to assess or correct. Unfortunately, se x ratios for adult and large juvenile loggerheads have not been mon itored over the past several decades. Female loggerheads have been shown to return to the beaches of their origin to nest (Webster and Cook 2001). Assuming strong nesti ng beach fidelity, in the long term there will be fewer females in the absence of any compensatory mechanism to bring sex ratios back to their natural levels for this rookery. If adult sex ratios reach a new equilibrium with 20% fewer females, the possibility of species recovery will be greatly reduced. Despite the fact that none of the other variables on sand or beach characteristics I assessed were of significance, it may be po ssible that some factor other than ORV use could explain the difference in sand temper ature and length of incubation between ORV and non-ORV beaches. When considering the potential effects on species recovery, the most important element of these incubation differences was not why the differences existed, but that the differen ces were present. However, in terms of conservation programs, it may be important to determine the cause in hopes of being able to ameliorate or mitigate the effect. One possible explanation of increased inc ubation time due to ORV use is that sand temperature differences were caused by smallscale topographic diffe rences at the beach surface. Tire ruts on a heavily or moderately driven beach extended from and sometimes over vegetation and primary dunes to the tideli ne or past the tideline. There were typically very few areas of dry beach not c overed by tire ruts. Day after day (24 hours a day in my study area), new tire ruts were made on top of existing ruts. The result was deep rutting, typically at leas t 6 in (0.15 m) deep and not unc ommonly up to a foot (0.3m)

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60 deep. The rough surface topography of beaches altered by tire ruts to the smoother, flatter surface of relatively unaltered beaches could result in less heat being absorbed during daylight hours and/or more heat being re-radiated at night.

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61 CHAPTER 5 MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS My study of the effects of ORV use on loggerhead nesting activity has many management implications. Currently, the Park Service at Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout has the goal of completing their firs t finalized ORV management plan by 2008. The Park Service staff at Cape Hatteras has written an Interim Protected Species Management Plan, and several elements of this study are relevant. The staff at Cape Lookout is currently working on drafting an In terim Protected Species Management Plan. Until ORV management plans are finalized, th e interim plans will guide policies for sea turtles and other species listed under the Enda ngered Species Act. At Pea Island, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not allow ORV use. The results of my study do not support the opening of Pea Island to ORV use, as the study did not find any beneficial effects of ORV use on loggerhead nesting activity. Management Requirements To understand the requirements for the Nati onal Park Service to manage the effects of ORVs on sea turtles, it is important to be aware of relevant policies and laws. National Seashore management has undergone many ch anges since the 1930s. Today all Parks and Refuges are legally bound to comply with laws, such as the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Migratory Bird Act. The Park s must also comply with the management guidelines printed in 2 handbooks by the Department of Interior: Management Policies of 2001 and The Natural Resources Management Guidelines of 1991

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62 The National Park Service at Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras does not have an incidental take permit. Such a permit is re quired when an activity causes the death or potential death of endangered or threat ened species (The Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of Amer ica 1973). The permit typically is issued for a certain amount of take, and if the activity exceeds the take, the activity is shut down. Other beaches with ORV and loggerhead nes ting have incidental take permits, for example Volusia County, Florida, USA (Volusia County 1996). The foundation of the Park Service stat ed in the Organic Act of 1916 is to, Manage the natural resources of parks to maintain them in an unimpaired condition for future generations (p. 28). These written policies are designed to set the framework on which all park decisions are to be made. Th e Park Services traditional practices, as well as unwritten policies, are not recognized as official policies (Nati onal Park Service 2001). There are management principles and policie s that apply to natural resources within the National Park Service. Sea turtles fall into 2 categories of resour ces to be managed: native species and endangered species. The Park Service is bound to protect, maintain, and restore the natural resources of a park (National Park Service 2001). The Park Service is committed to restoring and preserving the behavior, habitat, diversity, abundance, and distri butions of native animals (Na tional Park Service 2001). Native species are insured protection from harassment, removal, destruction, and, in some cases, harvest (National Park Service 1991). Human impacts are to be minimized on native species. If the Park Service is uncer tain about the impact an activity could have on a resource, the Park Service should decide in favor of resour ce protection (National Park Service 2001).

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63 The Park Service is bound to meet all obl igations listed in the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Loggerhead Recovery Pl an 1991 (National Park Service 2001). The Park Service recognizes that endangered and threatened species ca nnot recover by habitat protection alone, but will require active ma nagement (National Park Service 1991). In a park setting, it is necessary to manage visitor use, as well as wildlife. The principles governing visitor use are to, promote and regul ate appropriate use of the parks, and will provide the services necessary to meet the basic needs of the park visitors and to achieve each parks mission goals (Nat ional Park Service 2001 p. 79). The Park Service allows visitor activities that meet 2 requirements. The first requirement is that the activity is appropriate as defined by the enabling legislation. Second, the activity can not cause unacceptable impacts to natural resour ces. Any activity that would impair a natural resource canno t be allowed. There is only one ex ception to this rule. The activity must be allowed when directly mandated by Congress. In this case, ORVs do not fall into this exception category. When an act ivity is found to impair a resource, but is allowed by law and not directly mandated by Congress, the activity may be allowed in cases that create no unacceptable impairment. The park also reserves the right to discontinue or deny an activ ity that impairs a resource (National Park Service 2001). In order to manage visitor use, a park manager may establish closures, restrict approved activities, and/or lim it hours of use. The practice of closing areas may be put into place to protect native animals. A clos ure can be employed when a human activity causes habitat loss, a reduction of productivit y, and species avoidance behavior of the area. Closures can be installed even if th e closure affects visitor use (National Park Service 1991).

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64 There are 2 Presidential Execu tive Orders dealing with ORV use. President Nixon addressed the issue in 1972 w ith Executive Order 11644. In this Order, the President expressed the need for policies and procedur es to regulate ORV use on federal land to ensure natural resource and human safety. In 1977, President Carter issued Executive Order 11989, which gave a government agency the power to limit or eliminate ORV use in areas where there was resource damage on federal land (National Park Service 1978). In an effort to comply with Nixon's Order, the management of Cape Hatteras made several attempts at drafting an ORV manageme nt plan. None of the drafts has been approved by Congress. The draft plan that Cape Hatteras managers used during a portion of my study period was from 1978. For the re mainder of my study period, Cape Hatteras was not operating under an ORV management pla n. This draft plan divided up the Park into zones of use. Zone 1 was the ocean zone In this zone, ORVs could use any area 20 ft (about 6 m) below the dune or vegetation line and 150 ft (about 45 m) from the high tideline. In other words, any area with a width of 170 ft (about 51 m) between dune or vegetation and the tideline would be open to ORVs. Zone 1 areas could be closed seasonally if there were heavy pedestrian us e or wildlife use. The size and conditions under which a closure for sea turtles was es tablished was explained in the Methods Section (Chapter 2). The rema inder of the Park was divided into 3 other zones. These additional zones were not sea turtle nesting ar eas and will not be discussed (National Park Service 1978). During my study period, the Park Service at Cape Lookout was not operating under an ORV management plan, but planned to impl ement one in the near future. There were other islands within the Cape Lookout Park System that banned ORV use. These islands

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65 were not included in my study due to their isol ation and inconsistent nesting surveys. The islands of Cape Lookout used in my study allowed ORV use al ong the entire stretch of shoreline with a few exceptions. There wa s an area about 1/4 of a mile (0.4 km) long located in front of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse that was closed to ORVs. In addition, some areas that were closed for nesting shorebirds changed yearly. Pea Island became a National Wildlife Refuge in 1937. It was established with the purpose of providing a refuge and breeding gr ound for wildlife. ORV use was legal on Refuge property until the 1970s. The U. S. Fi sh and Wildlife Service at Pea Island had the most restrictive visitor use of the areas in my study. Vis itors were limited to daytime use, and there was a total ban on ORV use (U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Refuge Facts n. d.). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was cr eated to protect, conserve, and enhance fish, wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of the public. The Service has 3 main objectives: develop and apply an envir onmental stewardship ethic, guide the conservation of natural resources, and help the public appreciate and use wisely the nature resources. Many functions are associat ed with these goals and mission statement, but only a few apply to the management of nesting sea turtles. Assisting in the recovery of federally listed threatened and endangered species is another function of the U. S. Fish and W ildlife Service. The Service must acquire, protect, and manage ecosystems in order to sustain endangered sp ecies. Fish and wildlife species are to be protected from ha bitat destruction, overuse, or pollution (U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1998). In additi on to considering a refuges purpose and mission statement, the refuge manager must fo llow the biological in tegrity, diversity, and

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66 environmental health policy. Under this pol icy, a broad range of fish and wildlife found on refuges and associated ecosystems are prot ected (U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2001). The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service operat es under a principle of wildlife first. This concept was introduced in the Refuge Improvement Act of 1997, the fundamental mission of our system is wildlife conservation: wildlife and wildlife conservation must come first (p 3). The con cept of priority wildlife-dep endent public use was also established by the 1997 Improvement Act. U nder this Improvement Act public use or public use structures were generally not excluded from refuges. However, the protection/restoration of biol ogical integrity, diversity, and health may require temporal or spatial zoning of public use (Senate and House of Represen tatives of the United States of America 1997). Implications for Future Management My study provides vital information which should be incorporated into ORV use policy. Nesting success, incubation period, ha bitat quality, and false crawl percentages are all fundamental information for species ma nagement. The results could be integrated into Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookouts ORV Management Plans to be finalized by 2008. The current stages of the planning pro cess and sea turtle management differs between Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout Na tional Seashores. Due to these policy variations, the remainder of this chapter will be split into 2 sections. The first section will address the management implications for Ca pe Hatteras National Seashore. The final section addresses the management implicat ions for Cape Lookout National Seashore.

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67 Cape Hatteras False Crawl and Nesting Laying Cape Hatteras had higher false crawl pe rcentages on ORV beaches. These false crawl percentages could result in unnecessa ry energy expended by nesting female sea turtles on ORV beaches. The amount of en ergy used by turtles on ORV beaches is unknown. The energy expended in false crawls on ORV beaches might otherwise have been used in egg production, growth, or body maintenance. According to the Cape Hatteras Interim Protected Species Management Pl an, an elevated false crawl rate is suspected on ORV beaches. My confirmation of this supposition should result in a study by the Park Service to determine the effect s of the false crawl rates on the loggerhead population. The amount of excess energy exha usted by females attempting to nest on ORV beaches also needs to be determined. Only then can informed ORV policies be made. Figure 5-1. Loggerhead false crawl apex along tire rut on Ocracoke Island of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Caro lina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Lindsay Nester.

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68 There are ways to eliminate or mitigate an elevated false crawl rate. The effect could be reduced by permitting a limited number of ORV users, closing the beach during nighttime hours, prohibiting beach driving dur ing the nesting season, and/or reducing the mileage of beach currently open to ORV use. The only way to eliminate the effect of ORV use on nesting sea turtles completely would be to close all beaches to driving. Incubation The potential for skewed sex ratio of ha tchlings emerging from nests laid on ORV beaches is alarming. Action should be taken to correct any potential sex ratio skew. In order to completely correct a sex ratio skew, beaches should be closed to ORV use. It should take only a few months for beaches to revert back to thei r natural state. The risk to the population may be too great to a llow this recreational activity to continue. Currently, there is no solution that will allow the possible sex skew to be corrected while allowing ORV use to continue. However, additional research s hould be conducted to determine the specific cause or causes leading to differences in incubation duration of nests laid on ORV and non-ORV beaches Only by understanding the underlying mechanisms behind such a difference can appropriate mitigation be instituted. Habitat Quality My study provided evidence that the ha bitat quality of non-ORV beaches was inferior to ORV beaches. Virtually all beaches that were wide enough to be safely driven were chosen as ORV use beaches, greatly limiting the amount of non-ORV nesting habitat. Nests on non-ORV beaches suffe red much higher rates of washout and overwash. My study showed that washout redu ced emergence success to almost zero and overwash by more than half. The higher ne sting percentages and increased threats of overwash and washout on non-ORV beaches should be considered when determining an

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69 areas ORV use status. Past geographic nesting trends a nd habitat quality should be considered. ORV areas with high historic nesting percentages a nd low occurrence of washout and overwash should be designated non-O RV. To expedite this process the Park Service could refer to Volusia County, Flor idas Habitat Management Plan. Volusia County designated areas with high potentia l hatching success as non-ORV use areas. These areas were also determined to have high historic nesting percentages (Volusia County 1996). Figure 5-2. Loggerhead hatchling crawling towa rd the Atlantic Ocean on Ocracoke Island of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, No rth Carolina, USA in fall 2004. Photo by Lindsay Nester. If a relocation permit is obtained, Cape Hatteras 2006 Plan (Interim Protected Species Management Plan) is to relocate ne sts blocking ORV use, which could result in reduced emergence success. It has been the pr actice at Cape Hatteras to relocate nests in ORV areas in danger of loss to tidal inundati on, erosion, or collapsing escarpment. Nests that met the relocation criteria were move d to non-ORV areas. Moving nests from a

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70 beach with lower occurrences of washout a nd overwash (ORV beaches) to a beach with higher occurrences (non-ORV beaches) is not be neficial for sea turtle recovery. Nests should not be relocated to areas with historic levels of reduced emergence merely to avoid the disruption of ORV use. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Park Service should review past practices and monitor future relocate d loggerhead nests. Hatchling disorientation was not an elemen t of my study, but some lighting results had implications for sea turtle hatchlings. There were greater amount s of light in the 300500 nm range that attract sea turtles on non-ORV beaches. Many of these non-ORV areas were located on the narrow beachfronts at or near villages. Based on previous studies of hatchling orientation, this light has the potential to disori ent hatchlings (Bartol and Musick 2003, Gould 1998), leading them landward rather than seaward upon emergence from the nest. I recommend evaluating lighting, overwash, and washout when selecting areas for ORV use. ORV areas with lower levels of artificial light in wavelengths known to attract sea turtle hatchlings emerging from the nest or to discourage adult females from coming ashore should be considered for closure to ORV use during sea turtle nesting and hatching seasons. Cape Lookout False Crawl and Nesting Laying At Cape Lookout National Seashore, ORV ar eas have higher percentages of false crawls. The management staff of Cape L ookout should study the effect and amount of energy expended during nesting at tempts on ORV beaches. If th e risk to the sea turtle population is deemed too great, Cape Lookout s hould be closed to driving. The islands of Cape Lookout are uninhabited and reach able only by boat. These islands are not

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71 visited every day during the nesting season by law enforcement officials. Reducing areas open to ORV use, reducing the number of OR V users on the beach, or reducing the time of day ORV use is allowed would be difficult to enforce without daily law enforcement presence. Unless Cape Lookout can create non-ORV nesting areas, the only option to alleviate ORV effects is to close all beaches on North Core and South Core islands to driving. Incubation All areas of the North and South Core Is lands of Cape Lookout are open to ORV use. Thus, my results indicate that all of the loggerhead nests on these islands possibly contribute to a sex ratio skew. ORV use s hould be stopped in all areas of Cape Lookout to correct this skew. Habitat Quality Due to the lack of non-ORV beaches at Cape Lookout, it was not possible to complete a habitat quality analysis of the 2 si te types. If Cape Lookout decides to have nest relocation areas and nonORV beaches, I recommend the management staff consider habitat quality (overwash, washout, and relo cation) when establishing these areas. Despite the islands uninhabited status, li ght pollution was still abundant. Due to the lack of development on the islands, li ght from the nearby mainland was visible. There was also an active lighthouse on Sout h Core Island that contributed to light pollution. If Cape Lookout managers decide to designate areas of non-ORV use for turtle nesting, light intensity shoul d be a consideration. Conclusions Sea turtle education programs involving children foster sea turtle conservation awareness (personal observation). Children living near or visiti ng the coast should be

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72 included in sea turtle nest ex cavations. Participating in th e excavation will give children an opportunity to see hatchlings up close a nd provide an unforgettable experience. If beach drivers are required to obtain permits from the National Park Service for legal driving on the beach, the permitting process could provid e an educational opportunity related to sea turtle conservation and the impacts of ORV use on sea turtles. Potential ORV permittees could be required to read educational material or attend presentations concerning the status of sea turtles and the potential effects of ORV use on their recovery. There are several possible resolutions that could reduce or eradicate the negative impact of ORVs on loggerhead sea turtle ne sting activity. Solutions that will reduce ORVs impact on sea turtles vary in eff ectiveness according to the location. Some solutions to alleviate ORVs impact include reducing the beach area open to ORV use, closing the beach to ORV use during the nighttime hours, closing the beach to ORV use during sea turtle nesting and hatching seas ons, reducing the number of ORV users on the beach at a given time and location, and edu cating the public on sea turtle conservation issues. The only solution that will complete ly eliminate the negative impacts of ORVs on the sea turtle population is to st op ORV driving on the beaches.

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73 LIST OF REFERENCES AlKindi, A. Y., I. Y. Mahmoud, H. M. Al-Gheil ani, C. S. Bakheit, A. A. Al-Habsi, and A. Al-Kiyumi. 2003. Comparative study of the nesting behavior of the green turtle, Chelonia mydas, during higha nd low-density periods at Ras Al-Hadd Reserve, Oman. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 4 :603-611. Anders, F. J., and S. P. Leatherman. 1987. Effects of off-road vehicles on coastal foredunes at Fire Island, New York, USA. Environmental Management 11 :45-52. Arianoutsou, M. 1988. Assessing the impact of human activities on nesting loggerhead sea turtles on Zakynthos Island, Western Greece. Environmental Conservation 15 :327-333. Bartol, S. M., and J. A. Musick. 2003. Se nsory biology of sea turtles. Pages79-82 in The Biology of Sea Turtles Vol. II, editors Lutz, P. L., J. A. Musick, and J. J. Wyeken, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida. Baskale, E., and Y. Kaska. 2005. Sea turtle nest conser vation techniques on southwestern beaches in Turkey. Israel Journal of Zoology 51 :13-26. Bert, S., D. A. Yuen, and A. Braun. 2002. The influences of compositionsand temperaturedependent rheology in therma l-chemical convection on entrainment of the D-layer. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors 129 :43-65. Bjorndal, K., A. Meylan, and B. Turner. 1983. Sea Turtles nesting at Melbourne Beach, Florida, size, growth, and reproduc tive biology. Biological Conservation 26 :65-77. Blodget, B. G. 1978. The Effects of off -road vehicles on least terns and other shorebirds. Pages 1-79 in UM-NPSCRU report 26. Blott, S. J., and K. Pye. 2001. Gradistat: A grain size distribution and statistics package for the analysis of unconsolidated sediments. Earth Surface Process and Landforms. 26 :1237-1248. Bolten, A. B. 2003. The loggerhead sea turtle-a most excellent fishe. Pages 1-3 in The Loggerhead Sea Turtles, edited by A. B. Bolton and B. E. Witherington, Smithsonian Books, Washington, D. C. Campbell, L. M. 2003. Contemporary culture, use, and conservation of sea turtles. Pages 308-331 in The Biology of Sea Turtles Vol. II, editors Lutz, P. L., J. A. Musick, and J. J. Wyeken, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.

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76 Karavas, N., K. Georghiou, M. Arianoutsou, and D. Dimopoulos. 2005. Vegetation and sand characteristics influencing nesting activity of Caretta caretta on Sekania Beach. Biological Conservation 121 :177-188. Kikukawa, A., N. Kamezaki, and H. Ota. 1999. Factors affecting nesting beach selection by loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta ): A multiple regression approach. The Zoological Society of London 249 :447-454. Lamont, M., H. F. Percival, and S. V. Colewell. 2002. Influence of vehicle tracks on loggerhead hatchling seaward movement along a Northwest FL Beach,. Florida Field Naturalist 30 :77-82. Lewison, R. L., S. A. Freeman, and L. B. Crowder. 2004. Quantifying the effects of fisheries on threatened species: the impact of pelagic longlines on loggerhead and leatherback sea turt les. Ecology Letters 7 : 221-231. Lutcavage, M. E., P. Plotkin, B. Witheri ngton, and P. L. Lutz. 1997. Human impacts on sea turtle survival. Pages 387-411 in The Biology of Sea Turtles Vol. I, editors Lutz, P. L., J. A. Musick, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida. Mann, T. M. 1977. Impact of developed coas tline on nesting and hatchling sea turtles in the Southeastern Florida. Unpublished M. S. Thesis. Fl orida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida. Mann, T. M. 1978. Impact of developed coastl ine on nesting and hatchling sea turtles in Southeastern Florida. Florid a Marine Research Publication 33 :53-55. Marine Turtle Specialist Group. 1996. Care tta caretta. In: IU CN 2004. 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. January 16, 2006. Matsuzawa, Y., K. Sota, W. Sakamoto, and K. A. Bjorndal. 2002. Seasonal fluctuations in sand temperature: effects on the inc ubation period and mortality of loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) pre-emerge nt hatchlings in Minabe, Japan. Marine Biology 140 :639-646. Merchant-Larios, H. 2001. Temperature sex determination in reptiles: The third strategy. Journal of Reproduction and Development 47 :245-252. Meylan, A., B. Schroeder, and A. Mosier. 1995. Sea turtle nesting act ivity in the state of Florida 1979-1992. Florida Marine Res earch Publication Number 52. Florida Marine Research Institute, St. Petersburg, Florida. Miller, J. D. 1997. Reproduction in sea turt les. Pages 51-83 in The Biology of Sea Turtles Vol. I, editors Lutz, P. L., J. A. Musick, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.

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77 Miller, J. D. 1999. Determining clutch size and hatchling success. Pages 124-129 in Research and Management Techniques for th e Conservation of Sea Turtles, edited by K. L Eckert, K. A. Bjorndal, F. A. Abreu-Grobois, and M. Donnelly, IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group Publication No. 4. Blanchard, Pennsylvania Miller, J. D., C. J. Limpus, and M. H. G odfrey. 2003. Nest site selection, oviposition, eggs, development, hatching, and emergen ce of loggerhead sea turtles. Pages 260268 in The Loggerhead Sea Turtles, edited by A. B. Bolton and B. E. Witherington, Smithsonian Books, Washington, D. C. Mortimer, J. A. 1995. Factors influencing beach site selection by nesting turtles. Pages 45-51 in Biology and Conservation of Sea Turtles, edited by K. A. Bjorndal, Smithsonian Books, Washington, D. C. Mota, M. Unfinished. Doctoral Dissertation. Un iversity of Florida. Gainesville, Florida. National Marine Fisherie s Service (NMFS) and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1991. Recovery plan for U. S. population of logge rhead turtle. National Marine Fisheries Service, Washington D.C. National Park Service. 1978 Draft interim management plan off-road vehicle use Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Manteo, NC. National Park Service. 1991. The natura l resources management guideline. National Park Service, Washington, D.C. National Park Service. 2001. Management policies. NPS D1416. National Park Service, Washington D.C. National Park Service. 2006. Biologi cal assessment of the interim protected management strategy. Cape Hatteras Nati onal Seashore, Manteo, North Carolina. National Research Council. 1990. Decline of the sea turtles causes and prevention. National Academy Press, Washington D. C. Nester, L., and W. M. Giuliano. 2006. Sea tu rtle identification and viewing guidelines. University of Florida IFAS Extens ion. North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. 2002. Handbook for sea turtle volunteers in North Carolina. North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Raleigh, North Carolina. Pentcheff, D. 2006. Tide and current predictor. April 15, 2006. Pfister, C., B. A. Harrington, and M. Levine. 1992. The impact of human disturbance on shorebirds at a migration stagi ng area. Biological Conservation. 6 :115-125.

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78 Philibosian, R. 1976. Disorientation of ha wksbill turtle hatchlings, Eretmochelys imbricata, by stadium lights. Copeia 824. Priskin, J. 2003. Physical Impacts of Four -Wheel Drive Related Tourism and Recreation in a Semi-Arid, Natural Coastal Environment. Ocean and Coastal Management 46 :127-155. Pritchard, P. C., and J. A. Mortimer. 1999. Taxonomy, external morphology, and species identification. Pages 21-38 in Research and Management Techniques for the Conservation of Sea Turtles, edited by K. L Eckert, K. A. Bjorndal, F. A. AbreuGrobois, and M. Donnelly, IUCN/SSC Mari ne Turtle Specialist Group Publication No. 4. Blanchard, Pennsylvania. Provancha, J. A., and L. M. Ehrhart. 1987. Sea turtle nesting trends at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force St ation, Florida, and relationships with factors influencing nest site selection. Pages 33-44 in Ec ology of East Florida Sea Turtles, edited by W. N. Witzell, NOAA Technical Report NMFS 53, Miami, Florida. Richardson, J. I., and T. H. Richardson. 1995. An experimental population model for the loggerhead sea turtle (Caret ta caretta). Pages 165-179 in Biology and Conservation of Sea Turtles, edited by K. A. Bjorndal, Smithsonian Books, Washington, D. C. Ruitrago, J. 1984. Reproductive strategies of ma rine turtles. Estrat egias reproductivas en tortugas marinas. MEM. SO C. CIENC. NAT. LA SALLE. 42 :133-144. Salmon, M., R. Reiners, C. Lavin, and J. Wyneken. 1995. Behavior of loggerhead sea turtles on an urban beach. I. Correlates of nest placement. Journal of Herperol. 29 :560-567. SAS Institute. 2001. SAS System for Windows V8. Cary, North Carolina. SAS Institute. 2004. J MP 5.1. Cary, North Carolina. Schroeder, B. A., A. M. Fo ley, and D. A. Bagley. 2003. Nesting patterns, reproductive migrations, and adult foraging areas of l oggerhead turtles. Pages 114-120 in The Loggerhead Sea Turtles, edited by A. B. Bolton and B. E. Witherington, Smithsonian Books, Washington, D. C. The Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America. 1973. Endangered Species Act. The Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, Washington D. C. The Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America. 1997. National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act. The Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, Washington D. C.

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80 Webster, W. D., and K. A. Cook. 2001. Intr aseasonal nesting activity of loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) in southeastern North Carolina. American Midland Naturalist 145 :66-73. Webster, W. D., R. Buerger, J. Herstine, J. Hill, and C. Dumas. 2005. Assessment of ocean beach vehicular use at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area Kure Beach, NC. June 13, 2006. Witherington, B. E. 1992. Behavioral res ponses of nesting sea turtles to artificial lighting. Herpetologica 48 :31-39. Witherington, B. E., and M. Salmon. 1992. Pr edation of loggerhead turtle hatchlings after entering the sea. Journal of Herpetology 26 :226-228. Witherington, B. E. and R. E. Martin. 2003. Understanding, a ssessing, and resolving light pollution problems on sea turtle ne sting beaches. FMRI Technical Reports TR-2. Florida Marine Research Inst itute, St. Petersburg, Florida. Wolcott, T. G., and D. L. Wolcott. 1 984. Effects of off-road vehicles on macroinvertebrates of a mid-Atlantic beach. Biologica l Conservation. 28 :217-240. Wood, D. W., and K. A. Bjorndal. 2000. Rela tion of temperature, moisture, salinity, and slope to nest site selection in loggerhead sea turtles. Copeia. 1 :119-1. Yeung, C. 2001. Estimates of marine mamma l and marine turtle bycatch by the U.S. Atlantic Pelagic Longline Fleet in 1999-2000. Pages 1-43 in NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SEFSC-467.

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81 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Lindsay R. Nester received a Bachelor of Science degree from the State University of New York College of Environmental Scie nce and Forestry in 2003. She majored in environmental forest biology. After college she took a year and a half hiatus from academia to gain field experience. During this time she worked on an avian malaria project in Hawaii and two sea turtle nesting seasons on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina. In 2005, she started her graduate career at the University of Florida.


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Material Information

Title: Effects of Off-Road Vehicles on the Nesting Activity of Loggerhead Sea Turtles in North Carolina
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Copyright Date: 2008

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EFFECTS OF OFF-ROAD VEHICLES ON THE NESTING ACTIVITY OF
LOGGERHEAD SEA TURTLES IN NORTH CAROLINA












By

LINDSAY R. NESTER


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF SCIENCE

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2006

































Copyright 2006

by

Lindsay R. Nester



































To my mom, Ruth Nester.















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank the people working for Cape Hatteras National Seashore

where my love for sea turtles was fostered. I would especially like to thank my boss,

Marcia, during my time at Cape Hatteras. Special thanks go to all the employees, SCAs,

and volunteers at Cape Hatteras, Cape Lookout, and Pea Island for their data collection.

The following people were especially helpful: Jenn, Matthew, Jim, Jeff, Dennis, Tracy,

Ruth, Gail, Michael, Elizabeth, Kenny, Les, and Shiloh.

My advisor, Nat Frazer, deserves a big thanks for guiding me through the grad

school process. He was also a very good sport and endured less than desirable field

conditions. A committee member, Perran Ross, provided invaluable support and

knowledge. He spent an inordinate amount of time and effort guiding me through the

thesis process. I would also like to thank Mary Christman for giving statistical advice

that was essential to the completion of this project. I am greatly appreciative of John

Confer's constructive advice, perspective, and support. Russ Scarpino and Mario Mota

provided valuable technical advice. April Norem offered useful editing advice.

I would like to thank Mom, Dad and Kristin, for all of their support. Battle Cat has

provided unconditional love and tolerated my absences in the summers and time on the

computer. I would also like to thank all of my friends from Richmond, Virginia, who

have been my base of support: Meagan, Abby, Kelly, Nick, Van, and Cheryl.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS



A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ................................................................................................. iv

L IST O F TA B L E S ............................ .... ....................... .. ....... .. ............ vii

LIST OF FIGURES .......................... ...... ...... ............ viii

A B ST R A C T ................. .......................................................................................... x

CHAPTER

1 IN TR OD U CTION ............................................... .. ......................... ..

L oggerhead Statu s .................. .... ...................................... .............. ........ .. .. ...
General Description of Loggerheads....................................................................... 6
H y p oth eses................................................................13
False Craw l and N testing Laying ........................................ ...... ............... 13
E m ergence Success ......................... ........................ .. .. ...... .......... 13
In cu b atio n .....................................................................................1 3
H habitat Q quality ..............................................................13
Sand and Beach Characteristics..................... ...... ........................... 13
C conclusion ...................................................................................................... ....... 14

2 M E T H O D S .......................................................................................................1 5

Stu dy Sites .... ........ ................. ....... ........................................ ..........15
Background Information on Cape Lookout.............................. ............... 17
Background Information on Pea Island ........................................................19
Statistical Analysis.................................. .......... 38
False Craw l and N testing Laying ....................................................... 39
E m erg en ce Su access ....................................................................................... 3 9
In c u b a tio n ...................................................................................................... 3 9
H habitat Q quality ..............................................................41
Sand and Beach Characteristics............................. .......... 42

3 R E S U L T S .............................................................................4 3

False Craw l and N testing Laying.................................. ................... 43
E m erg en ce S u cce ss............................................................................................... 4 4



v









In c u b a tio n ............................................................................................................. 4 5
H ab itat Q u a lity ...................................................................................................... 4 8
Sand and Beach Characteristics........................................................ 49
ORV Counts............................................ 51

4 D ISC U S SIO N ............................................................................... 52

Sand and Beach Characteristics........................................................ 52
False C raw l and N est L aying................................................................. ............... 54
Em ergence Success and Habitat Quality ........................................ ............... 55
Length of Incubation and Possible ex Ratio Effects ..............................................57

5 MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS .............................................................. 61

M anagem ent R equirem ents ............................................... ............................. 61
Im plications for Future M anagem ent ........................................ ...... ............... 66
Cape Hatteras ....... ......................... .. ................... 67
False Craw l and N testing Laying ........................................ ...... ............... 67
In cub action ......... .............. .................................... .....................6 8
H ab itat Q u ality ..............................................................6 8
C ape L ookout ................................................................................ ........ .. ...............70
False Craw l and N testing Laying ........................................ ...... ............... 70
In cub action ......... .............. .................................... .....................7 1
H ab itat Q u ality ..............................................................7 1
C o n c lu sio n s ........................................................................................................... 7 1

LIST OF REFEREN CE S ........................................ ........................... ............... 73

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ........................................1















LIST OF TABLES


Table p

2-1 Least squares model for incubation period and specified variables. The Groups
1 through 3 represent separate models involving incubation period.....................40

2-2 Variables and their definitions used in my study on the effects of ORV use on
loggerhead sea turtle nesting activity. .............. ................... ........................ 41

3-1 Results for 2005 nesting season for nest and false crawl occurrences in logistic
models with the following variables: Group 1 Sand Characteristics, Group 2
Beach Characteristics, Group 3 Light: Intensity. .......................................... 45

3-2 2005 Incubation period in days displayed in least squares models for the
following variables: Group 1 Sand Characteristics, Group 2 Beach
Characteristics, Group 3 Date laid, Year, and Site type.........................................47

3-3 2005 Results from nesting and false crawl locations for the following variables
by Site Type (ORV and non-ORV): Group 1 Sand Characteristics, Group 2
Beach Characteristics for Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Cape Lookout
National Seashore, and Pea Island Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina, USA ...........50

3-4 ORV counts during 2005 sea turtle nesting season for Cape Hatteras (Ocracoke,
Hatteras, and Bodie Islands) and Cape Lookout (South Core and North Core
Islands) National Seashores, North Carolina, USA. Park management at North
Core and South Core Islands allow both ATV and ORV use. In contrast, staff at
Ocracoke, Hatteras, and Bodie Islands allow ORV use only..............................51















LIST OF FIGURES


Figure page

1-1 Loggerhead returning to the ocean after nesting on Bodie Island of Cape
Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by
Jen n S nu k is...................................................... ................................ 6

1-2 Loggerhead returning to the Atlantic Ocean after laying a nest on Ocracoke
Island of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer
2003. Photo by Lindsay N ester. .................................................................... .. .. 11

1-3 Sea turtle nest closure sign on Ocracoke Island of Cape Hatteras National
Seashore, North Carolina, USA in fall 2004. Photo by Lindsay Nester. ................12

2-1 A typical weekend day in an ORV use area on Ocracoke Island of Cape Hatteras
National Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Lindsay
N ester. ..............................................................................16

2-2 A typical weekend day on North Core Island of Cape Lookout National
Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer 2004. Photo by Lindsay Nester..........18

2-3 A typical weekend day on Pea Island of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge,
North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Lindsay Nester ........................19

2-4 Study sites in Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Pea Island Wildlife Refuge,
N north C arolin a, U SA ........................................................................ ..................2 0

2-5 Study sites in Cape Lookout National Seashore, North Carolina, USA ................21

2-6 Loggerhead false crawl on Ocracoke Island of Cape Hatteras National Seashore,
North Carolina, USA summer 2005. Photo by Lindsay Nester. ..........................23

2-7 Green turtle crawl on Hatteras Island of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North
Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Jenn Snukis............... ...................24

2-8 Loggerhead turtle crawl on Hatteras Island of Cape Hatteras National Seashore,
North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Jenn Snukis. ...........................24

2-9 Crawl record data sheet from Handbook for Sea Turtle Volunteers in North
Carolina, USA (North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission 2002). ...............26









2-10 Map of sea turtle management zones for Cape Lookout National Seashore. Each
tickm ark equals 1 m ile ................................................. ................................ 27

2-11 Nest marking on South Core Island of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North
Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Lindsay Nester .................................30

2-12 Nest excavation on Hatteras Island, North Carolina, USA in summer 2004.
P hoto by L indsay N ester ............................................................... .....................3 1

2-13 Penetrometer being used to determine the compaction and psi for a false crawl
on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Jill Smith..34

2-14 Footprint touching a transect line for pedestrian counts. Photo by Paul Nester. ....36

2-15 Slope being determined for a false crawl on Ocracoke Island at Cape Hatteras
National Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Jill Smith....37

3-1 2000-2005 Incubation periods in days for loggerhead sea turtle nests at Cape
Hatteras National Seashore, Cape Lookout National Seashore, and Pea Island
Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina, USA by site type (ORV and non-ORV) ............46

4-1 Expected change in percentages of females due to mean temperature differences
between ORV and non-ORV beaches in North Carolina, USA from sex
ratio/temperature relationship (Godfrey and Mrosovsky 1997)............................58

5-1 Loggerhead false crawl apex along tire rut on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina,
USA in summer 2005 Photo by Lindsay Nester. ............. ..................................... 67

5-2 Loggerhead hatchling crawling toward the Atlantic Ocean on Ocracoke Island,
North Carolina, USA in fall 2004. Photo by Lindsay Nester..............................69















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science

EFFECTS OF OFF-ROAD VEHICLES ON THE NESTING ACTIVITY OF
LOGGERHEAD SEA TURTLES IN NORTH CAROLINA

By

Lindsay R. Nester

August 2006

Chair: Nat B. Frazer
Major Department: Interdisciplinary Ecology

Loggerheads sea turtles face many anthropogenic nesting threats, including beach

armoring, beach nourishment, artificial lighting, commercial fishing, beach vehicular

driving, and pollution. Most potential threats have been thoroughly evaluated, but there

remains a dearth of information about the effects of beach vehicular driving on nest

success. Several factors were evaluated to determine the effect of driving off-road

vehicles (ORVs) on nesting activity. To compare driven and non-driven beaches, data on

beach slope, sand compaction, beach width, sand color, sand grain size, moisture content,

incubation temperature, and pedestrian activity were collected during the 2005 nesting

season at Cape Lookout National Seashore, Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Pea

Island Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina, USA. Data collected in the 2000 to 2005 nesting

seasons were assessed to determine differences in incubation period and the percentages

of false crawls between ORV and non-ORV beaches.









ORV use was found to be a significant factor in determining nesting laying. False

crawls were more likely to occur on ORV beaches. The light intensities for 300-500 nm

were found to be a significant factor in determining the occurrence of a nest or false

crawl. A T-test for light intensities for 300-500 nm found greater light intensity on non-

ORV beaches. Incubation period was estimated to be an average of 2 days longer for

ORV beaches. This is estimated to cause a decline of 20% in production of female

loggerhead turtles at these locations. None of the beach and sand characteristics

accounted for this difference. More nests were relocated on ORV beaches than non-ORV

beaches. However, nests on non-ORV beaches were subject to higher rates of inundation

by the sea. Emergence success of hatchlings in Cape Hatteras was reduced by more than

half by overwash and approached zero with washout.

The greater occurrences of false crawls on ORV beaches may cause the nesting

turtle to expend additional energy. This energy could be put into egg production or

growth. Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout need to further evaluate this effect and take

action to mitigate it. ORV use could be stopped completely, permitted, mileage reduced,

discontinued during nesting season, or prohibited during nighttime hours. The habitat

quality of non-ORV beaches was inferior to the beaches designated for ORV use. The

issues of overwash, washout, and light intensity should be considered when selecting an

area for ORV use or as a nest relocation site. Areas with high historic nesting

percentages and low incidence of overwash and washout ought to be designated as non-

ORV. The possible skewed sex ratios present a risk for a recovering population. ORV

use should be discontinued in order to correct sex ratio.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

My study examined the effects of ORV use on loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta

caretta) nesting on the beaches of North Carolina, USA. The variables I evaluated were

false crawl percentages, nest percentages, emergence success, incubation period, and

habitat quality. I also estimated the effect on sex ratio of emerging hatchlings caused by

temperature differences between ORV and non-ORV beaches.

Sea turtles are ancient reptiles that have been swimming the oceans and nesting on

beaches long before there was a human species. A great deal has changed since sea

turtles coexisted with dinosaurs. Today all extant species of sea turtles are listed on the

Endangered Species Act as either threatened or endangered. During the 100 million

years sea turtles have existed, their numbers presumably have fluctuated with different

habitat limiting factors and predation (Spotila 2004). It is now that sea turtles face their

greatest challenge to existence due to direct and indirect interactions with humans.

The journey to the nesting beach is often a treacherous one for the gravid female.

The females become entangled in fishing gear, ingest plastics, collide with boats (Tisdell

and Wilson 2002), are sucked into dredging equipment, and damaged in oil-platform

removal (Lutcavage et al. 1997). Once on the beach, sea turtles may be directly taken for

commercial use or scared away by tourists (Tisdell and Wilson 2002).

The majority of unnatural deaths of sea turtles are attributed to commercial

fisheries. Sea turtles can be caught in crab pots, longline fishing hooks, or shrimping

trawl nets (Tisdell and Wilson 2002). It is estimated that shrimping alone kills 5,000 to









50,000 loggerheads per year. As of 1990, approximately 500-5,000 loggerhead

mortalities per year were caused by fishing other than shrimping (National Research

Council 1990).

Recently longline fishing has become a critical threat to sea turtle survival

(Spotila et al. 2000). There are 40 nations participating in longline fishing. The longline

fishing effort was estimated at 1.4 billion hooks in the water in 2000 (Lewison et al.

2004). In 1999, it was estimated that 769 loggerhead sea turtles were caught in pelagic

longline fishing in the U. S. Atlantic waters (Yeung 2001). Another study concluded that

200,000 loggerheads were caught in pelagic longlines worldwide in 2000 (Lewison et al.

2004). The hooks used in longline fisheries are considered by fishermen to be too

expensive to lose. Some fishermen illegally cut the throats of the turtle to save their

hooks (Casale and Cannavo 2003).

The term "take" refers to the killing or harvesting of a wild species. It is estimated

that dredging results in the mortality of 500-5,000 loggerheads per year. Collision with

boats causes the mortality of 50-500 loggerheads per year. Oil-rig removal ends the lives

of 10-100 loggerheads per year (National Research Council 1990).

The United States is on a long list of countries that previously participated in the

selling and buying of commercial turtle meat (Groombridge and Luxmore 1989, Eckert

1993, Tisdell and Wilson 2002). Due to the protected status of all sea turtles in the

United States, the legal take of sea turtles for commercial use has stopped. Most of this

commercial take has been discontinued throughout the world, as all species of sea turtles

have been listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural

Resources (IUCN) red list of endangered species (Marine Turtle Specialist Group 1996)









and in Convention for International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) appendix 1.

This classification prohibits commercial trade from or to any country that has signed the

CITES agreement (cites.org n. d.).

Tourism and ecotourism impact sea turtles in various direct and indirect ways.

Indirectly, tourists may leave beach chairs, umbrellas, and trash on the beach which could

interfere with or prevent a turtle from nesting (Arianoutsou 1988). Tourists directly

interact with turtles by taking pictures, using flashlights, riding on, or touching nesting

turtles. Any of these direct interactions can cause an aborted nesting attempt or possible

injury to the turtle and/or tourist (Campbell 2003).

Beach armoring can accelerate the rate of erosion on a nesting beach. Nests laid

near an armoring structure will potentially have a greater occurrence of overwash, thus

reducing hatching success. The term "overwash" refers to water from the ocean washing

over a sea turtle nest. If overwash becomes severe, the whole nest could be lost to the

tide. Renourished (sand replaced) beaches often become too hard for digging by nesting

females. Hatchlings also have difficulty emerging from nest cavities on renourished

beaches. These beaches can remain hard for many years (Steinitz et al. 1998).

Artificial lighting has resulted in the deaths of countless hatchlings (Hayes and

Ireland 1978, Mann 1978, Philibosian 1976, Witherington and Martin 2003). Sea turtles

have been shown to move towards brighter areas. Loggerheads can see wave lengths

ranging from 360-700 nm, but they are xanthophobic. Xanthophobic means an aversion

to yellow-orange light (wave lengths higher in the visual range of the turtle) (Bartol and

Musick 2003, Gould 1998). Sometimes other light from streetlights, cars, hotels, houses,

and lighthouses is mistaken by hatchlings as the ocean. The result of this can be









hatchlings hit by cars, stepped on by people, or the death of hatchlings from dehydration

(Witherington and Martin 2003).

Survivorship varies greatly with changing life stages of sea turtles. Loggerhead

survival rates from egg to adulthood are very low, estimated at 1 or 2 per 1,000 (Frazer

1986). Adult loggerhead survival rates were estimated at 0.875 (Chaloupka and Limpus

2001). Another study had similar conclusions with an adult survivorship at 0.809

(Heppell 1998). Survivorship of loggerhead hatchlings has been estimated at 0.93

(Witherington and Salmon 1992). The mean annual survivorship of loggerhead

hatchlings was estimated in another study at 0.675 (Heppell 1998).

Most of these potential threats have been thoroughly evaluated, but there remains a

dearth of information about the effect of ORV use on sea turtle nesting beaches. My

study examined whether ORV use presents a significant threat to the reproductive success

of the loggerhead sea turtle.

In 1967, Archie Carr wrote, "the hold of Caretta on shores of the United States is

slipping fast. Many of the best of the old loggerhead beaches have become cluttered with

people and the constant traffic of cars" (Carr 1967 p. 223). Since Carr made that

statement, there has been a considerable change in the availability and use of ORVs. The

soft, sandy beaches of the North Carolina shore cannot be successfully driven in a two-

wheel drive vehicle (personal observation). Human use of the coast for recreation has

greatly increased along with the growth of the human population. Four-wheel drive

vehicles were not available to civilians until after WW II (Blodget 1978). The popularity

of ORVs has dramatically increased. Off-road driving is one of the fastest growing

recreational activities in the United States. In 2001, 36 million Americans participated in









ORV use. It has been estimated that 3.2% of the population of North Carolina

participated in ORV use from 1999-2004 (Cordell et al. 2005).

Loggerhead Status

On July 28, 1978, the loggerhead sea turtle was listed as threatened under the

Endangered Species Act throughout its entire range. The Endangered Species Act of

1973 defines "threatened" on page 6 as, "any species which is likely to become an

endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of

its range." A species listed as threatened was afforded the same protection under the law

as a species listed as endangered and was subject to a federal Recovery Plan (Senate and

House of Representatives of the United States of America 1973). The most recent

Loggerhead Recovery Plan was prepared in 1991 and presented threats to the species. A

new version of the Loggerhead Recovery Plan is currently being drafted, but has not been

released to the public at this time.

The loggerhead's range spans both hemispheres in temperate and tropical waters.

The Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans are all included in the loggerhead range (Bolten

2003). My study evaluated nesting activity at the northern end of the loggerhead range.

Within the United States, 35% to 40% of the world's loggerhead turtle nests are

laid. This large nesting aggregation ranked the southeastern United States as the second

largest loggerhead nesting aggregation in the world (Bjorndal et al 1983, Meylan et al.

1995). There are approximately 53,000-92,000 loggerhead nests laid in the southeastern

United States every year. Approximately 6,200 nests are laid in the northern breeding

area (TEWG 1998). This northern nesting group appears to be decreasing at a rate of

3% per year (Frazer 1986).









General Description of Loggerheads















S s .



Figure 1-1. Loggerhead returning to the ocean after nesting on Bodie Island of Cape
Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by
Jenn Snukis.

The most abundant sea turtle nesting on North Carolina beaches is the loggerhead

(Epperly et al. 1995). Adult loggerheads have a reddish-brown carapace and scales.

Adult loggerheads in the southeastern United States weigh an average of 115 kg (Nester

and Giuliano 2006). The age at which sexual maturity is reached is estimated at 22 years

(Crowder et al. 1994).

Loggerheads in the southeastern United States nest during summer months on the

high energy beaches of the barrier islands. Mating normally takes place from March to

early June. Nests can be laid as early as April and as late as September. In order to lay a

successful nest, a female needs access to loose, deep sand that is above the high tideline

(Miller 1997). The typical loggerhead nest at night, but there is an occasional exception.

Since most turtles follow this night nesting rule, it is feasible to count the number of nests

laid each night by surveying the following morning (Schroeder et al. 2003). Females









nesting at night can perceive light and movement and be easily frightened resulting in an

aborted nesting attempt, also called a false crawl (Arianoutsou 1988).

In order to assess the potential impact of ORVs on the nesting and reproductive

success of loggerheads, I compared the following:

* proportion of false crawls and nests on ORV and non-ORV beaches
* emergence success of hatchlings from nests laid on ORV and non-ORV beaches
* average number of incubation days for nests laid on ORV and non-ORV beaches
* rate of nest relocation for ORV and non-ORV beaches
* amount of overwash and washout of nests on ORV and non-ORV beaches

I also compared the following characteristics for ORV and non-ORV beaches and

assessed the relationship of these characteristics on the proportion of false crawls and

emergence success of hatchlings from nests:

* beach slope
* beach width
* sand grain size
* sand compaction
* beach temperature
* relative amount of pedestrian use
* amount of light on beaches (545-700 nm and 300-500 nm)
* year effects over the 6 year period from 2000-2005

The National Park Service and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service controlled about 150

miles (241 km) of coastline in the area my study took place. The National Park Service

and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service administered the Endangered Species Act and the

Loggerhead Recovery Plan. The U. S. National Park Service at Cape Lookout and Cape

Hatteras was not operating under a finalized management plan or a sea turtle incidental

take permit. Cape Hatteras has made many failed attempts to finalize a management

plan. A 1978 draft plan was the management plan Cape Hatteras operated under for a

portion of my study period. Cape Lookout had a Five Year Strategic Plan that mentions

ORV use, but lacked any formal ORV management plan.









The effects of ORV use on sea turtles have not been adequately researched. In the

Cape Hatteras 1978 Draft ORV Management Plan, there was not a program of scientific

study in place (National Park Service 1978). During the years since that plan was

written, there have been only 4 studies involving ORVs and sea turtles. The Loggerhead

Recovery Plan addressed the issue of ORV use and listed the possible conflicts. ORV

use at night can disturb nesting females and cause aborted nesting attempts. Vehicles can

kill or disorient hatchlings. Furthermore, ORV use contributes to erosion, which will

eventually deteriorate the quality and quantity of nesting habitats. The Recovery Plan

specifically directed the U. S. National Park Service to evaluate the impacts of vehicular

traffic on loggerhead nesting activities. The plan mentioned Cape Hatteras and Cape

Lookout National Seashores as potential trouble areas (NMFS and U. S. Fish and

Wildlife Service 1991).

In 1977, a graduate student from Florida Atlantic University conducted research

showing that sand compaction from driving above a nest can decrease nesting success

and kill hatchlings (Mann 1977). Another study was conducted by Paul Hosier of the

University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 1981. One of the study sites was Cape

Lookout National Seashore. This study concluded that a tire track as deep as 10-15 cm

could significantly impede a hatchling's ability to reach the surf (Hosier 1981). These

studies gave some information about the effects of beach driving, but the number of

ORVs on beaches has drastically changed since 1977. Today ORVs have the potential to

make a greater impact on sea turtle recovery and survival.

In recent years, there have been 2 additional studies relevant to this topic. In 2002,

the University of Florida published its results from a study on vehicle tracks along the









Gulf Coast of Florida, USA. This study came to the same conclusions as Hosier (Lamont

et al. 2002). Researchers at University of North Carolina at Wilmington were contracted

by the state in 2004 to evaluate ORV use at Fort Fisher State Park in southern North

Carolina, USA. The economic impacts of ORV use were reviewed, as well as the

biological impacts. This study compared the sea turtle nesting data at Fort Fisher to the

past data from Bald Head Island, which is located just to the south of Fort Fisher. The

management at Bald Head Island did not allow ORV use, while the staff at Fort Fisher

allowed ORVs with a permit. The economic impacts were evaluated by Chris Dumas.

He concluded that a policy of 24 hour ORV use 6 months of the year and daytime only

ORV use the other 6 months of the year would reduce the indirect and direct benefits to

the local economy by only 4%. The biological impact analysis of the study found that

ORV lights and tire ruts negatively affect nesting adult and hatchling sea turtles. This

study stated that restricting ORV use will do little to protect endangered, threatened, or

rare species. The only scenario that will benefit all wildlife species would be the closing

of all areas open to ORV use (Webster et al. 2005).

Sea turtles are not the only beach-dependent animals affected by ORV use. There

have been a few studies on other beach species. A shorebird study published in 1992

found that areas of beach with greater than 100 vehicles had reduced abundances of 13

species of shorebirds. For example, the short-billed dowitcher is very sensitive and can

have reduced abundance with only 10 to 40 vehicles present (Pfister et al. 1992). A study

in South Africa found that the majority, 80%, of ORV use occurred in areas occupied by

breeding birds (Watson et al. 1996). A previous study conducted by Watson concluded

that oystercatchers are more susceptible to human impacts due to their nesting in areas









popular for human use. Oystercatchers were disturbed by vehicles or pedestrians

approaching within 40 m of their nest (Watson 1992).

Beach invertebrate abundance can be greatly reduced by ORV presence. A study

on Assateague Island, Virginia, USA found that 98% of invertebrates could be killed by

100 nighttime passes of an ORV (Wolcott and Wolcott 1984). Other invertebrate studies

have concluded that ORV use could bury or crush ghost crabs, interfere with ghost crabs'

reproduction, and dry out substrates making them unusable (Steiner and Leatherman

1981).

An ORV use impact study on beaches in coastal Australia found that vehicle use

caused significant damage to beach vegetation. This study found that ORVs impacted

large areas of vegetation on a single trip. When additional trips were added, there was

little difference observed in the damage to vegetation (Priskin 2003). At Fire Island, New

York, USA another study indicated that ORV use on beaches adversely affected foredune

vegetation. The Fire Island study showed 1 pass per week by an ORV can severely

damage beach vegetation (Anders and Leatherman 1987). An additional study at Fort

Fisher Recreation Area and Baldhead Island, North Carolina, USA concluded that the

abundance and diversity of beach vegetation was reduced in areas of ORV use (Hosier

and Eaton 1980).

A study on the impacts of ORV use on mammalian communities in North Carolina,

USA found that community structure was altered by ORV use. Mammal populations

were 3 times greater in areas of non-ORV use (Webster et. al. 1980).




















.C "... .-.. ,
i" .hbj /"2J



















Island of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer
2003. Photo by Lindsay Nester.

There are direct and indirect impacts ORVs could have on sea turtle nesting

activity. My study addressed the indirect impacts of ORVs on loggerhead activity.

Habitat and nesting patterns could be altered by ORV use. In sea turtle nesting activity,

nest site selection is an important process. Through nest site selection, sea turtles balance

the trade-offs and potential pay-offs of various nesting sites. Sea turtles use multiple

environmental clues when selecting a nest site (Wood and Bjorndal 2000). Nest site

selection involves 3 phases: beach selection, emergence of female, and nest placement.
selection involves 3 phases: beach selection, emergence of female, and nest placement.





































Figure 1-3. Sea turtle nest closure sign on Ocracoke Island of Cape Hatteras National
Seashore, North Carolina, USA in fall 2004. Photo by Lindsay Nester.

The complete nesting process involves the following steps: emergence from the

ocean, climbing the beach, digging a body pit (a hole in the sand approximately the size

of the turtle's body), digging the egg chamber (a flask-like hole in the body pit region

into which the eggs are deposited), egg laying, covering the egg chamber and body pit

with sand, and returning to the ocean (Miller et al. 2003). At any time during the nesting

process, a sea turtle may abort the attempt. This is termed a false crawl. There are many

possible causes for an aborted attempt, including an undesirable location or human

disturbance (Kikukawa et al. 1999). To investigate these different possibilities, I

proposed the following hypotheses:









Hypotheses

False Crawl and Nesting Laying

1. The proportion of false crawls to nests will be higher on ORV beaches.
Conversely, nest laying will be greater on non-ORV beaches.

2. The sand, beach, and light characteristics will not significantly influence whether a
turtle lays a nest or false crawls.

3. The proportion of false crawls to nests will differ during the 6 year study period.

Emergence Success

4. Emergence success will be greater on non-ORV beaches.

5. The sand and beach characteristics will not significantly influence the emergence
success.

6. The emergence success will vary during the 6 year study period.

Incubation

7. The number of incubation days will differ between ORV and non-ORV beaches.

8. The sand and beach characteristics will not significantly influence days of
incubation.

9. The number of incubation days will vary during the 6 year study period (for the
total number of days all nests were incubating on the beach during a given year).

Habitat Quality

10. The proportion of nests laid that were relocated will be greater for non-ORV
beaches.

11. The amount of overwash and washout will be greater on non-ORV beaches.

Sand and Beach Characteristics

12. The sand characteristics (particle size distribution and water content) will not be
significantly different between ORV and non-ORV beaches. The beach
characteristic slope will not differ significantly between ORV and non-ORV
beaches. The remaining beach characteristics (width, width adjusted for tidal
variation, compaction, temperature, and pedestrian use) will differ between the two
site types. Width and compaction will be less on non-ORV beaches, while
pedestrian use will be greater on non-ORV beaches. Temperature will be
significantly greater on non-ORV beaches. The amount of light 545-700 nm and
300-500 nm will be greater on non-ORV beaches.









Conclusion

There are numerous reasons I evaluated the effects of ORV use on loggerhead sea

turtles at Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National Seashores. Loggerhead sea turtles

are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (Senate and House of

Representatives of the United States of Americal973), and their population is thought to

be declining (Frazer 1986). In addition to ORV use, sea turtle hatchlings and their eggs

face many threats to survival (National Research Council 1990). Any impacts ORV use

have on loggerhead sea turtles could potentially be exacerbated by increased ORV use.

My research on the impact of ORV use on the nesting activity of loggerhead sea turtles

could aid in the drafting of ORV management plans.














CHAPTER 2
METHODS

I conducted my study during the 2000-2005 nesting seasons at Cape Hatteras

National Seashore, Cape Lookout National Seashore, and Pea Island National Wildlife

Refuge. All of these coastal areas were in the state of North Carolina. The study sites at

Cape Hatteras National Seashore consisted of Bodie Island, Hatteras Island, and

Ocracoke Island. Cape Lookout National Seashore study sites were located on South

Core Island and North Core Island. Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge study site

consisted only of the area called Pea Island.

Study Sites

This study was conducted at 3 different areas in North Carolina: Cape Hatteras

National Seashore, Cape Lookout National Seashore, and Pea Island National Wildlife

Refuge. Each site differed in size, nesting activity, and, in some cases, ORV use and

regulation. The miles of beach open to ORV use varied from year to year. The only year

with records kept for ORV use mileage was 2005 during which approximately 43 mi (69

km) were non-ORV and 87 mi (140 km) were ORV use. Any area within my study range

on Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and Cape

Lookout National Seashore was sampled for sea turtle nesting activity and eligible for

selection for sampling sand and beach characteristics.

Background Information on Cape Hatteras

Cape Hatteras was the first National Seashore to join the U. S. National Park

Service system in 1937. The bill approved by Congress stated that the Seashore should









cover approximately 100 mi2 (approximately 256 km) of the Outerbanks (National Park

Service: Expansion of the NPS in the 1930s (Chapter 4) n. d.). The Park stretched from

Bodie Island to Ocracoke Island and consisted of 3 islands: Bodie Island, Hatteras Island,

and Ocracoke Island. There were 8 villages along this stretch, which were not

incorporated into the Park (National Park Service 1978).



















Figure 2-1. A typical weekend day in an ORV use area on Ocracoke Island of Cape
Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by
Lindsay Nester.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore was located at the southern end of the

Outerbanks and was broken into 3 districts. The district to the north was Bodie Island. It

was about 15 mi (about 24 km) long and was connected to the island of Nagshead via a

bridge. Nagshead was also connected to the mainland via a bridge. The Bodie Island

district had the lowest sea turtle nesting occurrences (about 11 per year). There was little

development and only a few Park residences on the beachfront. The middle district was

Hatteras, and it was connected to Bodie Island by a highway. Hatteras was the largest of

the 3 districts, and this was the location of the majority of sea turtle nesting activity in the









Park. It was about 30 mi (about 48 km) long and averaged 45 nests per year. There was

heavy residential development on the beachfront. Ocracoke Island was the southern-most

island. It was 14 mi (about 22 km) long and reachable only by ferry. It averaged about

21 nests a year. The island had a small village located on the sound side and no

beachfront development.

When the Park was established, Congress promised residents would still be able to

fish as a trade under the rules established by the Department of the Interior. Areas not

well situated for recreation were to remain wild to preserve the natural floral and fauna.

In 1938, the U. S. National Park Service expressed their planned policy in the form of

enabling legislation for managing the Seashore. The primary purpose of the Seashore

was recreation. It was the U. S. National Park Service's intention to provide for all forms

of beach recreation. The second priority of management was to protect the area for its

historical, geological, forestry, and wildlife features (National Park Service: Expansion of

the NPS in the 1930s (Chapter 4) n. d.). When this management policy was transcribed

in the 1930s, there were no civilian ORVs. So there was no mention of ORVs as a form

of recreation or use with fishing.

Background Information on Cape Lookout

Cape Lookout was an undeveloped natural barrier island chain located to the south

of Cape Hatteras. The Seashore established on March 10, 1996, by Public Law 89-366

contained over 11,331 ha of land in central coastal North Carolina, USA. There was a

back dune road behind the primary dune line that was open to ORVs. Cape Hatteras and

Cape Lookout were similar, as they allowed ORVs 24-hour beach access every day of the

year. There was no ORV permitting system at either Park. Cape Lookout had 2









concessionaires which transported vehicles and passengers. In addition, 8 other ferry

services provided transportation for passengers only.



















Figure 2-2. A typical weekend day on North Core Island of Cape Lookout National
Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer 2004. Photo by Lindsay Nester.

Cape Lookout started an island chain referred to as the Core Banks and consisted

of 4 main islands. North Core Island was about 22 mi (about 35 km) long and was

reachable only by boat. Boats from Ocracoke Island transported tour groups and ATVs.

Ferries from the mainland transported people and cars. The ferries were commercial and

charged at least $70 to bring over a vehicle. North Core Island averaged 48 nests a year.

There were no permanent residences, but rental cabins with electricity were located on

the beachfront. Middle Island was small and reachable only by private boat. There were

no commercial or residential developments, but there was some ATV use. Turtles nested

on Middle Island, but no one consistently monitored this area. It was thought that less

than 10 nests were laid per year. Middle Island was excluded from my study.

Shackleford Banks was located to the south of North and South Core Islands. ORV use

was prohibited on this island. Due to lack of consistent turtle monitoring, Shackleford









Island was excluded from this study. The southern-most island was called South Core. It

was similar to North Core in size and accessibility, but exceeded North Core in nests laid.

South Core averaged over 71 nests a year. Park employees lived in the lightkeeper's

house and a small cabin on the beachfront. Rental cabins with electricity were available

to the public.

Background Information on Pea Island

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge was located between the Bodie Island and

Hatteras Island districts of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The Refuge was

approximately 13 mi (about 20 km) long and received over 2.5 million visitors a year (U.

S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Refuge Facts n. d.). The Refuge was open to public

visitation during daytime hours. A nighttime fishing permit could be obtained from

September 15 to May 31. Driving a motorized or non-motorized vehicle was prohibited

at all times on Refuge property (U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Refuge Regulations n.

d.). Turtle activity was minimal in this area with only 0 to 10 loggerhead nests a year.



















Figure 2-3. A typical weekend day on Pea Island of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge,
North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Lindsay Nester.









































Atlantic Ocean


10 miles (18km)


Atlantic Ocean


10 miles (16km)


Ocracoke Island


Figure 2-4. Study sites in Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Pea Island Wildlife
Refuge, North Carolina, USA.










































Atlantic Ocean


10 miles (10km)


National Seashore



nd National Wildlife Refuge




De Hatteras


Figure 2-5. Study sites in Cape Lookout National Seashore, North Carolina, USA.


North I


Atlantic
Ocean









From June 1st to August 31st beginning at 6am I, along with Park Service and

Refuge personnel, conducted a daily patrol on the shoreline of the entire length of each

island or coastal area within the study sites. This patrol was carried out by ATV, truck,

or foot depending on equipment availability and situation. On days the weather did not

permit safe patrol, it was postponed. As conditions improved, the patrol was continued

and completed.

Nesting Data Collection

From 2003 to 2005, I collected nesting data on Ocracoke Island of Cape Hatteras

National Seashore. Nesting data collection for other study sites was completed by Park

or Refuge personnel. When a sea turtle track was discovered, it was evaluated to

determine the type of nesting event. Locations with evidence of turtle digging were

carefully examined to determine if eggs were present. If egg presence was visually

confirmed, the activity was recorded as a "nest." If eggs were not located, but the turtle

had dug a body pit showing signs of nest laying, the activity was recorded as a "dig." A

"body pit" was defined as a disturbance in the sand caused by a nesting female sea turtle.

The nesting female dug a hole large enough for her body to rest in during the egg laying

process. A dig was treated and marked as if it were a nest. After hatching, all activities

marked as digs were determined to be either a nest or a false crawl. During daily checks,

if a dig showed signs of hatching, the dig was recorded as a "nest". If the dig did not

show signs of hatching, the area would be dug up to determine the dig's status. Turtle

tracks with no evidence of digging or nesting were recorded as "false crawls," and these

usually had a recognizable shape.







































Figure 2-6. Loggerhead false crawl on Ocracoke Island of Cape Hatteras National
Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Lindsay Nester.

The species were determined by species specific crawl patterns. Data was

recorded on the individual crawl record form for most study sites. Leatherbacks made

the largest crawl pattern and moved both front flippers at the same time. Green turtles

had much smaller crawls than leatherbacks, but green turtles also moved both front

flippers at the same time. Loggerhead turtles had crawl patterns about the same size as

green turtles, but made alternate flipper patterns. In addition, loggerheads rarely drug

their tail through a crawl. The rarely seen Kemp's crawl was much smaller than all other

species. The Kemp's crawl was generally made during the day and had alternate flipper

patterns (Pritchard and Mortimer 1999).































Figure 2-7. Green turtle crawl on Hatteras Island of Cape Hatteras National Seashore,
North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Jenn Snukis.


Figure 2-8. Loggerhead turtle crawl on Hatteras Island of Cape Hatteras National
Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Jenn Snukis.









The physical beach location of crawls was determined for each crawl, and the

methods used varied from site to site. At Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout, Park staff

used mile markers to determine physical location of crawls. Mile markers were

numbered signs posted on the beach and corresponded to beach mileage. At Cape

Lookout, markers were placed every mile. In contrast, mile markers occurred at every

ORV ramp entrance on Cape Hatteras. The Cape Hatteras markers were numbered to

correspond with beach mileage, but did not occur every mile. When a crawl was found at

Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras, the odometer on a Park Service ATV or truck was

zeroed. The vehicle was then driven to the nearest mile marker and the distance

determined. The distance, the mile marker number, and the direction (north, south, east,

or west) was logged.

Physical locations on Pea Island were determined by the distance from the Pea

Island Refuge base of operation. This base was located at the Pea Island Visitor Center

on Highway 12. The odometer on the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service ATV was zeroed at

the Pea Island Visitor Center. The distance from the visitor center to crawls along the

beach was determined by odometer mileage. All data was recorded on a Crawl Record

Sheet (Figure 2-9).

The sea turtle management zone was determined by the physical location using

maps in the Handbookfor Sea Turtle Volunteers in North Carolina. Sea turtle

management zones for the state of North Carolina start at the North Carolina Virginia

border at mile 1. The numbers continue in 1 mile intervals throughout the state of North

Carolina to the North Carolina South Carolina border. These numbers were created by

the state of North Carolina to monitor sea turtle activity within the state. During my











study period, staff at Cape Hatteras and Pea Island recorded management zones. Staff at


Cape Lookout discontinued the use of management zones before my study commenced.




CRAWL DATE: (for all crawls discovered aftr midnight, enter the date the crawl was found. F(
all crawls foundlreported bcif midnight, enter the next day's date.

CRAWL TYPE (check one): =FALSE CRAWL or I NEST

SPECIES (check one): gLogeerhead [l reen turtle [ Leatherback Kemp's ridley

CRAWL NUMBER:
TREATMENT (check one) =0-No treatment
=-Relocated
=2-wired in place
-3-Relocated and wired

CRAWL LOCATION:

CRAWL WAS FOUND IN SEA TURTLE NEST MANAGEMENT ZONE

CRAWL LATITUDE LONGITUDE WAYPOINT #

RELOCATED NEST LOCATION; _

REL. SITE LATITUDE LONGITUDE WAYPOINT #

REASON FOR MOVING NEST


NUMBER OF EGGS RELOCATED__

TRANSPONDER BALL BURIED WITH NEST? Y / N


NEST DEPTH in./cm.

TIME NEST WAS MOVED_


TIDAL INNUNDATION
Enter Y" if nest was washed by the tide. enter N" If nest was not washed by the tide for each day during incubation.
Day 1 Day 21 Day 41 Day 61_ Day 81
Day 2 Day 22 Day 42 Day 62 Day 82
Day 3 Day 23 Day 43 Day 63 Day 83
Day 4 Day 2 ay 44 Day64 Day 84_
Day 5_ Day 25 Day 45 Day 65 Day 85 Total
Day 6 Day 26 Day 4__ Day 66 Day 86
Day 7_ Day 27 Day 47 Day 67 Day 87__ number
kD Day 28__ Day 4__Day 68_ Day 88_ of days
Day 9 Day 29 Day 49 Day 69 Day 8__ nest was
Day 10 Day 3 Da 30 Day 50D_7ay y 90__ washed
Day 11 Day 31 Day 51 Day 71
Day 12 Day 32 Day 52 Day 72___ over
Day 13 Day 33 Day 53 Day 73
Day 14 Day 34 Day 54 Day 74
Day 15 Day 35 Day 55 Day 75___
Day 16 Day 36 Day 56_ Day 76
Day 17 Day 37 Day 57 Day 77
Day 18 Day 38 Day 58_ Day 78
9_ 19 Day 39 Day 59_ Day 79_
Day 20_ Day 4__ Day 60 Day 80

Figure 2-9. Crawl record data sheet from Handbook for Sea Turtle Volunteers in North
Carolina, USA (North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission 2002).












Pamlico Sound


New Drum Inlet


Core Banks, North & South
Shackleford Banks


I Cape Lookout


Figure 2-10. Map of sea turtle management zones for Cape Lookout National Seashore.
Each tickmark equals 1 mile. Sea turtle management zones were determined for false
crawl and nesting activities within Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Pea Island
Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina, USA (North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
2002).

The Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) coordinates were taken, recorded, and

saved on the GPS unit. Typically, Park and Refuge personnel used physical location,


__









rather than GPS coordinates, when returning to a nesting site. GPS coordinates were

used to locate nests after major storm events. Often major storm events removed

temporary nest markers placed near the nest. If the activity was a dig, the coordinates

were taken from the middle of the body pit. If immediate danger was determined, the

nest was relocated. Nests were assessed for their danger of being lost due to erosion,

overwash, or collapsing escarpment. At Cape Hatteras, nests were relocated from ORV

areas to the closest area of non-ORV use. Non-ORV nests relocated at Cape Hatteras

were moved to the nearest safe area of non-ORV use. At Cape Lookout, nests were

relocated to areas designated for relocation. These areas were considered safe from

overwash and did not disrupt ORV use. At Pea Island, nests were relocated to designated

areas deemed safe from overwash. The relocated nests at Pea Island, Cape Hatteras, and

Cape Lookout were not used in the emergence success evaluation.

I used physical locations and management zones to determine the best access

point by ATV or truck during my sand and beach characteristic data collection. GPS

locations were used to find the specific location of false crawls and nests during

nighttime hours. I used data recorded at Cape Hatteras to determine whether a turtle

activity was in an ORV or non-ORV area. All turtle activities at Pea Island were

considered to be in non-ORV areas and turtle activities at Cape Lookout in ORV areas.

Each turtle nest was marked and protected from human disturbance. The specific

methods of marking varied within the study area. At Cape Hatteras sea turtle nests were

marked using 4 carsonite or wooden signs (Figure 1-3). These signs stated "Sea Turtle

Nesting Area" and "No Entry." At Pea Island, nests were marked with wooden post

signs similar to those used at Cape Hatteras. Conversely, at Cape Lookout 2 white PVC









pipes were placed on the ocean and dune side of the nest (Figure 2-11). The nests were

also covered with a wire screen to prevent predator entry.

After 55 days, when a nest approached its estimated hatching date, each closed

area was expanded by moving signs from the original nest closure of about 4 ft x 4 ft (1.2

m x 1.2 m) to the area from the surf to approximately 30 ft (9 m) behind the nest.

Pedestrians and ORVs were not allowed to enter this area. The North Carolina

Handbook set forth the following guidelines for the distance along the beach of the closed

area: In non-ORV areas with little pedestrian use, the area closed was expanded to 75 ft

(about 22 m) wide from dune to ocean. This expanded area was approximately 37 ft (11

m) wide on either side of the nest. Non-ORV areas with high pedestrian use were

expanded to 150 ft (about 45 m) from dune to ocean. This expanded area was

approximately 75 ft (22 m) on each side of the nest. In all ORV use areas the closure was

enlarged to 300 ft (about 91 m) or about 150 ft (45 m) on both sides of the nest.

At Cape Hatteras, there were specific guidelines for turtle closures in most

situations. If the nest was 30 ft (about 9 m) or more from the dune or vegetation, traffic

was directed behind the nest with arrow signs that were visible at night If the nest was

too close to the dune for redirection, the whole area (dune to ocean) was closed to ORVs.

In this case, ORVs would not be able to get around the nest.

On Cape Lookout, the traffic was rerouted if possible behind the nest to the back

beach road located behind the primary dunes. Within most of the study area, tire ruts and

footprints were removed by hand with a rake or broom in the area closed. If people or

vehicles entered the closed area, new footprints or tire tracks were removed daily by staff

conducting the morning patrol.


































Figure 2-11. Nest marking on South Core Island of Cape Lookout National Seashore,
North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by Lindsay Nester

Hatching Data Collection

Emergence was determined by the presence of hatchling tracks from the known

nest location. After hatchlings emerged from the nest, the nest was excavated. The term

"excavation" referred to digging into the nest cavity and evaluating the contents. If a

mass emergence (a large number of hatchlings, usually 30 or more, leaving the nest

cavity in 1 event) was determined, the nest was excavated 72 hours after emergence. If

the emergence occurred over several days with fewer than 30 sea turtle hatchling tracks

per day, the nest was excavated 120 hours after the first emergence. If nests experienced

periods of heavy rain or overwash, the excavation was delayed. These nests were not

excavated until incubating for at least 90 days. After emergence occurred from an









overwashed nest, a 120-hour wait was required regardless of the rate of emergence. The

state of North Carolina required waiting periods that varied from 72 hours to 90 days to

protect the natural environment within the sea turtle nest cavity.










I ~-'






















whole egg shells with more than half the
egg intact (ES) whole unhatched eggs (UH)


Figure 2-12. Nest excavation on Hatteras Island of Cape Hatteras National Seashore,
North Carolina, USA in summer 2004. Photo by Lindsay Nester

The nests I excavated were inventoried (contents evaluated and counted), and the

data recorded on the individual crawl record. I recorded number of whole egg shells with

more than half the egg intact (ES), number of whole unhatched eggs (UH), number of









pipped eggs with live or dead hatchlings (PE), number of dead hatchlings (DH), and the

number of live hatchlings (LH). "Pipped eggs" are eggs that contain hatchlings partially

out of their shell. Sea turtle eggs are leathery and do not normally break into fine pieces

upon hatching (Figure 2-12). I calculated the total clutch size (TCS) using the formula

TCS = (PE + UH + ES). The emergence success was calculated by (ES (LH + DH +

PE + UH)) / TCS. This was a standard method for determining emergence success

(Miller 1999, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission 2002).

Beach Characteristics Data Collection

During the summer of 2005, I collected data on sand composition, sand

compaction, sand color, sand temperature, light intensity, pedestrian activity, beach

width, ORV use, and beach slope. I gathered data for all of these factors, except light

intensity and sand composition, 3 different times during the 2005 season for Cape

Lookout and Cape Hatteras. Light intensities were measured once at each site during the

2005 nesting season. Sand composition data was collected daily. Pea Island was added

to the study in August of 2005 and was sampled only once.

Each island was sampled every 3 weeks for a total of 3 times. Sampling consisted

of recording information on sand compaction, sand temperature, pedestrian activity,

beach width, and slope. Any nest and false crawl sites from the previous 3 weeks were

eligible for sampling, and a random sample chosen from among this set. A number

representing each nest and false crawl site was written on similar-sized pieces of paper,

and 12 papers were blindly selected as sampling sites. If the location was within 0.4 km

from an area previously sampled, I did not sample that area again. An additional









numbered piece of paper was not selected for a sampling site. Some weeks, this resulted

in less than 12 sites sampled.

Sand samples for composition analysis were taken the following morning after a

nest was laid from some nests and false crawls during the 2005 season. A sample of

approximately 120 g was taken from the mid-section of the body pit. A study has shown

that sand mixes well, and sand particle size does not differ significantly with sea turtle

nesting depth (Bert et al. 2002). If the eggs were relocated, the sample was taken from

the bottom of the cavity. If the nesting activity was a false crawl, the sample was taken

from the apex of the crawl. For all samples, the dry top layer of sand was removed and

the jar inserted into the sand. The jars had a tight seal and were tested for their ability to

maintain moisture content. I brought the jars to the lab and recorded the initial weight to

the nearest tenth of a gram. Before viable samples were opened, I experimented with 14

jars of samples from an island in the Core Banks that was not used in my study. I

determined that 6 hours of drying at 1250 C was adequate to remove all water that could

be removed by evaporation and for the sample to reach a constant weight. The samples

were opened and placed into a drying oven at 1250 C for 6 hours. The samples were then

closed, cooled, and weighed at room temperature to determine water content. Moisture

content of the sand was determined by weight lost in grams during the drying process. I

placed 100 g of dry sample into a mechanical sand shaker with varying sieve sizes for 4

minutes. The sieve sizes used were: size 18 (1.00 mm), size 35 (500 gim), size 60 (250

lim), and size 120 (125 gim). I logged the weight of sand retained by each sieve size

(Blott and Pye 2001). I was advised on sand analysis procedure by Mario Mota (Mota

unfinished).









Sand color was determined using the Munsell Soil Color Charts. The sand

samples were matched to the color chips on the chart for hue, value, and chroma. Hue

indicated the color's relationship to red, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Value specified

the color's lightness. Chroma designated its strength or departure from the neutral color

of the same lightness.

Sand compaction was determined with the use of a penetrometer from the Ben

Meadows Company "soil compaction tester" with a model number 6JB-221005 and a

gauge from 50 psi to 500 psi. I inserted the penetrometer to a depth of 6 cm. Two

readings were taken 1.5 m from the false crawl or nest on each side of the activity (north

to south). If the activity was a false crawl, I took readings 3 m from the tideline. If the

activity was a nest, I took readings directly parallel to the north and south of the nest.
























Figure 2-13. Penetrometer being used to determine the compaction and psi for a false
crawl on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by
Jill Smith









I took light intensity irradiancee) measurements at night using the IL1700 Research

Radiometer from International Light. The Radiometer range was over a 10 billion to 1

watts/cmA2 dynamic. Two spectral bandwidths were used measuring light intensity at

300-500 nm (bluish) and 545-700 nm (orange-yellowish) in watts/cmA2. I took readings

at Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras approximately every 5 km along the shoreline within

a few days of the new moon. The readings for Pea Island were taken a week after the

new moon. I placed the light meter at turtle eye level (approximately 0.3 m off the

ground) at the high tide mark on the beach. The light meter was facing toward the

primary dune line to simulate a sea turtle's nesting approach. Three readings were taken

at every location using both a 300-500 nm and 545-700 nm bandwidths.

The amount of pedestrian use was determined by counting footprints in an area. I

walked and counted pedestrian tracks along 2 transects for each area sampled. Transects

were 9 m on either side (north to south) of the nest or false crawl. This procedure was

followed in order to limit the number of turtle patrol footprints included in the count.

Transects were established by dropping a tape measure from dune to tideline. The

number of pedestrian tracks that physically intersected (touched) the tape measure were

recorded. In order to control for subjectivity of counts, I made all observations.

The width of the beach was taken from dune or primary vegetation line to tideline

at each nest or false crawl location. I took measurements with a plastic tape measure at a

variety of times within the tide cycle. The tape measure was placed at the primary dune

line and the other end of the tape measure taken to the tideline following the shortest

route perpendicular to the dune and ocean.


































Figure 2-14. Footprint touching a transect line for pedestrian counts. Photo by Paul
Nester.

The beach width was standardized to mean high tide using the formula (most

recent high tide mean high tide at location) /sin(slope). The most recent high tide was

determined from the tidal table on the day and time of recording widths (Pentcheff 2006).

The mean high tide at the location was 1.056 ft (0.32 m) above tide datum at given tide

location. The (+ or -) deviation above or below mean high tide was then added to the

observed widths. This resulted in adjustments of-13 ft (4 m) to +27 ft (8 m) to standard

beach width.

The numbers of ORVs on the shoreline at night were recorded on 3 Friday nights

during the loggerhead sea turtle nesting season. Each island was driven once from south

to north, and the number of vehicles recorded. ATVs and ORVs were logged separately.









All terrain vehicles, usually with 4 wide tires, were referred to as "ATVs" in my study.

Vehicles were included in the counts regardless of motion or headlight use. Counts were

conducted between 10pm and 2am.

Beach slope was determined using a plastic board and a protractor. I placed the

board at the tideline in front of each nesting and false crawl activity. The mid-part of the

board was located at the tideline, and the protractor was read from this location.


























Figure 2-15. Slope being determined for a false crawl on Ocracoke Island at Cape
Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by
Jill Smith.

I took sand temperatures to the nearest tenth of a degree Celsius for all selected

nesting activities that were not relocated. Two readings were taken for every nest 1.5 m

on either side of the nest (north to south). A thermometer was attached to a plastic probe

and inserted to sea turtle incubation depth of 50 cm. Temperature data collection was









gathered between 10pm and 2am. There was no need to adjust for time of data

collection, due to the fact that the temperature remains close to constant at an incubation

depth of 50 cm (Matsuzawa et al. 2002).

Statistical Analysis

The nesting and false crawl data was compiled for the 2000-2005 study period, and

I labeled each nest or false crawl "ORV" or "non-ORV." Pea Island's activities were

labeled "non-ORV" and Cape Lookout's activities were labeled "ORV." Cape Hatteras'

activities were labeled either "ORV" or "non-ORV" depending on location. A "washout"

was defined as a nest that was at least partially lost to the sea. If a nest was partially or

totally lost to the tide, I entered the response "yes" into the appropriate column.

"Overwash" was defined as a nest that was at least partially covered by the tide at some

point during incubation. Unlike washout, no eggs were physically lost to the tide. If a

nest received any amount of overwash during incubation, the response "yes" was entered

into the overwash column. Frequencies, chi squares, and logistic models were all carried

out using SAS software (SAS Institute 2001). T-tests and standard least squares models

were conducted in the JMP software (SAS Institute 2004). I verified all assumptions for

each analysis. The graph of incubation period in days by site type was made using the

JMP software (SAS Institute 2004). The graph displayed every data point for ORV and

non-ORV beaches as black squares. The green diamonds represented the means of the

ORV and non-ORV incubation periods. The blue lines represented the grand means for

both site types.

Sand and beach characteristics were associated with the nest or false crawl from the

same location during the 2005 season. Light data was matched to the 2 nearest GPS

coordinates for nests and false crawls. The amount of light measured for each of the









bandwidths (545-700 nm and 300-500 nm) was averaged between the 2 closest points of

collection. As a result of stringent criteria of nest selection for temperature data

gathering, a large enough sample size was not obtained for use in any model analysis.

False Crawl and Nesting Laying

* (1) I created frequencies and chi-square tables for all activities (false crawls and
nests) for 2000-2005. Input from a statistical advisor was utilized in making these
tables.

* (2) A stepwise logistic regression using model success as "nest" being the activity
type present was used for the 2005 nesting and false crawl data. The sand
characteristics (sand size 18, 35, 60, and 120, along with water content), beach
characteristics (slope, compaction, pedestrian use, and width), and light
characteristics (545-700 nm and 300-500 nm) were all evaluated in separate
models. Each of the 3 models contained sets of variables that were recorded at
various locations and at different times during the 2005 sea turtle nesting season.
Each model was checked for multiple co-linearity of variables, and there was none
present.

* (3) I ran a stepwise logistic regression using model success as "nest" representing
the activity type for 2000-2005 nesting data. Year of false crawl or nest laying was
also incorporated into this model.

Emergence Success

* (4) Data on emergence success was sorted, and the data was removed for nests that
were relocated, overwashed, or washedout. Next, a T-test of the means was used to
determine statistical significance.

* (5) I hypothesized that the sand and beach characteristics would not significantly
affect emergence success.

* (6) It was hypothesized that emergence would vary during my 6 year study period.
As a result of the conclusions to the fourth hypothesis the emergence success
analysis was not conducted for the fifth and sixth hypotheses.

Incubation

* (7) Using a T-test, I ascertained the means of the 2 site types (ORV and non-ORV)
for 2000-2005 nesting data with determined incubation periods. Incubation days
were calculated from the date a nest was laid to the first emergence of hatchlings.
Relocated nests were excluded from this part of the analysis.









* (8) Standard least squares models were constructed for the 2000-2005 nesting data
that contained the number of incubation days excluding relocated nests. I
examined the effect on incubation period of beaches with ORV use and beaches
with non-ORV use in terms of beach characteristics and sand characteristics. I
examined the variables: beach characteristics, slope, compaction, pedestrian use,
width, and date laid in the model. Date laid was expressed in a format called
"Julian day," the day of the year with numbers 1 through 365. January 1, 2006 was
written as 2006001. Sand sieve size 18, 35, 60, and 120, along with water content,
and date laid were the sand characteristics included in the sand characteristic's
model. The process is explained below using groups to specify variables and
individual models in Table 2-1. Each of the 3 models contains sets of variables that
were recorded at different locations and at various times during the 2005 sea turtle
nesting season. Each model was checked for multiple co-linearity of variables, and
there was none present.

Table 2-1. Least squares model for incubation period and specified variables. The
Groups 1 through 3 represent separate models involving incubation period.
Group 1
Size 18 sand
Size 35 sand
Size 60 sand
Size 120 sand
Water weight
Date laid
Group 2
Date laid
Slope
Compaction
Pedestrian activity
Width
Group 3
Date laid
Site type
Year
Site type*year*day

* (9) I constructed another standard least squares model for the 2000-2005 nesting
data that contained the number of incubation days excluding relocated nests. The
year, date laid, and site type, along with the interactions between all 3 were the
variables entered into the model. The date laid was used in a T-test along with site
type for all nests during the 2000-2005 nesting seasons.











Table 2-2. Variables and their definitions used in my study on the effects of ORV use on
loggerhead sea turtle nesting activity.
Variable Definition
The proportion of sand in grams found in the size 18 sieve out of the total
Size 18 sand
Size 18 a100g of sample used. 18 was the largest grain size sieve used.
Size 35 sand The proportion of sand in grams found in the size 35 sieve out of the total
Size 35 sand
100g of sample used.
e 60 s The proportion of sand in grams found in the size 60 sieve out of the total
Size 60 sand
100g of sample used.
The proportion of sand in grams found in the size 120 sieve out of the
total 100g of sample used. 120 was the smallest grain size sieve used.
The amount of sand moisture content in grams found by the difference in
Water content
weight before and after drying (moisture removal).

Site type ORV and non-ORV

Pedestrian use The amount of footprints that physically touched a transect line.
The angle in degrees of the beach at the tideline at false crawl and nest
Slope locations.
Wid The length in feet of dry sand between the tideline and the primary dune
line.
Compaction The hardness of the beach at 6cm in psi.
: -70 nm Light intensity measured in watts/cm2 using the spectral bandwidth 545-
Light: 545-700 nm
700 nm.
SLight intensity measured in watts/cm2 using the spectral bandwidth 300-
Light: 300-500 nm
500 nm.
Date laid Date of year nest laid from 1 to 365.
Year Year of nest or false crawl.
Site type*year*day Interaction between ORV use, year of nest laid, and day of year nest laid.
The length in feet of dry sand between the tideline and the primary dune
Standardized width line, standardized to mean high tide using the formula (most recent high
tide mean high tide at location) /sin(slope).
Temperature Temperature of nest at incubation depth (50cm) in degrees C.
A part of color that designated its strength or departure from the neutral
Chroma
color of the same lightness.

Habitat Quality

* (10) Frequency and chi-square tables were created for all nests from 2000-2005
with a "yes" or "no" response to relocation.

* (11) I synthesized frequency and chi-square tables for all nests from 2000-2005
with a "yes" or "no" response to overwash or washout. A logistic stepwise
regression analysis was carried out for overwash and washout with width and site
type for the 2005 nests containing widths. Using Hatteras data only for the 2000-
2005 nesting seasons, a T-test was conducted for the emergence success with and






42


without overwash and the emergence success with and without washout. Only
Hatteras data was used in this analysis because Cape Hatteras contained areas of
both ORV and non-ORV use.

Sand and Beach Characteristics

(12) and (13) I constructed T-tests of the means for all sand and beach
characteristics for the 2 site types using the 2005 data. A T-test was made for the
adjusted widths with site type.














CHAPTER 3
RESULTS

In the sections that follow (False Crawl and Nest Laying, Emergence Success,

Incubation, and Habitat Quality), there was an island effect. I expected there would be

natural variation between these factors on different islands. The islands used in my study

were in the same geographic area with similar natural characteristics which minimized

the island effect. The primary reason island variation analysis was not feasible was due

to the fact that some islands contained only ORV use areas, while another island

contained only non-ORV use areas and the remaining islands contained both site types.

Due to the nature of my study and its goal of evaluating the effects of ORV use on these

islands, it was not possible to take island variation into effect in the statistical analysis.

False Crawl and Nesting Laying

In the First Hypothesis, I stated the false crawl percentages would be higher on

ORV beaches. I found my hypothesis was true at my study locations. ORV beaches had

a 51% occurrence of false crawls. Non-ORV beaches had 40% occurrence of false

crawls (X2= 16.55, df = 1, n = 2261, and p =< 0.0001).

In the Second Hypothesis, I proposed that sand, beach, and light characteristics

would not significantly influence the occurrence of a nest. I evaluated this hypothesis

using stepwise logistic regression. The sand characteristics were all found not significant

at the 0.05 level. ORV use approached significance in the beach characteristics' model.

Two variables, 300-500 nm bandwidth light intensity and site type (ORV and non-ORV),

were found significant at the 0.05 level for the light characteristics' model. The second









hypothesis was supported for beach and sand characteristics, but not for light presence.

When date laid was added to the models, no change in significance was noted for the

sand and light characteristics models. In the beach characteristics model, when date laid

was added in with the original variables minus site type, width was significance with a p-

value of 0.0274 (n = 104, R2 = 0.0639). There was a strong correlation between width

and site type.

Because of the near significance (i. e. p< 0.06, see Group 3, Table 3-1) of the p-

value in the light characteristics model for light in the 545-700 nm bandwidth, and the

significant difference found for light in the 300-500 nm range, I conducted an additional

test to assess separately whether light in the 300-500 nm bandwidth and 545-700 nm

bandwidth was significantly different for ORV and non-ORV beaches. An independent

two-tailed T-test for the 545-700 nm light showed no significant difference between ORV

and non-ORV beaches 0.77 (n = 398, t = 0.04 df = 396). However, light in the 300-500

nm range was significantly greater (t = 3.05, and p = 0.002) on non-ORV beaches (X =

4.51 X 10-13, sd = 1.19 X 10-12) than on ORV beaches (X = 4.51 X 10-13, sd = 4.69 X 10-

13).

My Third Hypothesis was that the ratio of false crawls to nests would vary during

the 6 year study period. A stepwise logistic regression confirmed this hypothesis

(p<0.0001, X2= 21.56, n = 2244, df = 1).

Emergence Success

A difference in emergence success on ORV and non-ORV beaches was my

Fourth Hypothesis. Data on emergence success were sorted, and the data for relocated,

overwashed, or washedout nests were discarded. An independent two-tailed T-test found

no significant differences for the mean emergence success on ORV and non-ORV









beaches. Due to the support of the null hypothesis, no additional analysis was carried

out.

Table 3-1. Results for 2005 nesting season for nest and false crawl occurrences in logistic
models with the following variables: Group 1 Sand Characteristics, Group 2
Beach Characteristics, Group 3 Light: Intensity.
Variable n X2 p
Group 1
Size 18 sand 131 0.02 0.90
Size 35 sand 131 0.001 0.98
Size 60 sand 131 0.003 0.96
Size 120 sand 131 1.23 0.27
Water content 131 0.02 0.89
Site type 131 0.001 0.97
Group 2
Pedestrian use 108 0.58 0.45
Slope 108 0.93 0.34
Width 108 0.91 0.34
Compaction 108 1.83 0.18
Site type 108 3.54 0.06
Group 3
Light: 545-700 nm 398 3.54 0.06
Light: 300-500 nm 398 6.45 0.01
Site type 398 18.73 <.0001

Incubation

My Seventh Hypothesis was that the number of incubation days would vary

between nests laid on ORV and non-ORV beaches. An independent one-tailed T-test

found that nests laid on ORV beaches had a significantly longer (t =2.29, p = 0.02)

incubation period in days (X = 64.5 days, SD = 0.38) than did nests laid on non-ORV

beaches (X = 62.8 days, SD = 6.13).

I predicted that sand and beach characteristics would not significantly influence

days of incubation in my Eighth Hypothesis. In the standard least squares model for sand

characteristics, (Table 3-2, Group 1) date laid was the only significant variable with a p-










value of 0.01 (adjusted R2 = 0.72, f = 4.02, n = 131). The standard least squares model of

beach characteristics found none of the variables significant (Table 3-2). Chroma of sand

coloration was also not a significant variable affecting incubation time.


80-
-





70-
-




60-



50-

50-
-


ORV


non-ORV


Site Type
KEY
Blue Lines Grand Means
Green Diamonds Means
Short Blue Lines Within Diamonds Mean Error Lines
Short Blue Lines Outside Diamonds Standard Deviations

Figure 3-1. 2000-2005 Incubation periods in days for loggerhead sea turtle nests at Cape
Hatteras National Seashore, Cape Lookout National Seashore, and Pea Island
Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina, USA by site type (ORV and non-ORV).


* U
* U
* U
* U
* U
* S
* K


s a
a E
* I

I I
-I-

* I









The Ninth Hypothesis was that there would be annual variation in the number of

incubation days during the 6 year study period. I used a standard least squares model to

evaluate this hypothesis. My hypothesis was correct, and all variables were significant

(Table 3-2, Group 3).

Table 3-2. 2005 Incubation period in days displayed in least squares models for the
following variables: Group 1 Sand Characteristics, Group 2 Beach
Characteristics, Group 3 Date laid, Year, and Site type
Adjusted R2 F-value p-value
Group 1 n = 47 0.72
Size 18 sand 2.64 0.14
Size 35 sand 2.43 0.15
Size 60 sand 2.90 0.12
Size 120 sand 2.69 0.13
Water content 0.45 0.52
Date laid 4.02 0.01
Group 2 n = 28 0.68
Date laid 2.95 0.15
Slope 2.34 0.20
Compaction 2.53 0.19
Pedestrian activity 1.13 0.35
Width 0.51 0.51
Group 3 n = 517 0.54
Date laid 22.76 <0.0001
Site type 25.26 <0.0001
Year 20.02 <0.0001
Site type*year*day 4.14 0.001

Due to the fact that date laid was a significant factor influencing the length of

incubation, I hypothesized that the mean date of nest laying was different for ORV and

non-ORV beaches. An independent T-test rejected this hypothesis. However, an

independent T-test rejected this assertion in favor of the null hypothesis (p = 0.18, df=

1156, t= 1.34).









Habitat Quality

My Tenth Hypothesis stated that the percentage of relocated nests would be greater

for non-ORV beaches. However, the frequency for nests relocated on ORV beaches was

49%, compared to 42% on non-ORV beaches. A chi-square analysis determined that

designation of a beach for ORV use or non-ORV use was a significant factor influencing

the proportion of nests relocated (p = <0.0001, X2= 56.81, n = 1119, df = 1).

My Eleventh Hypothesis was that overwash and washout percentages would be

greater on non-ORV beaches. Chi-square analysis revealed that designation as ORV or

non-ORV use was a significant factor related to both overwash (n = 1064, X2= 81.84,

and p = <.0001) and washout (n = 1084, X2= 8.86, p = 0.003) of nests on a beach. The

frequency of nests overwashed in ORV use areas was 16% whereas nests in non-ORV

areas had a 44% overwash occurrence. Similarly, the frequency of washout occurrence

for nests in ORV use areas was 14%, and the occurrence of washout in non-ORV areas

was 22%. Thus, the likelihood of overwash and washout was greater on non-ORV

beaches.

I tested an additional hypothesis to determine if overwash and washout of nests was

greater on narrower beaches. However, in the stepwise logistic model for width, site

type, overwash, and washout, none of the variables were significant at the 0.05 level.

I also hypothesized that washedout and overwashed nests have lower emergence

success at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Cape Hatteras contained the only group of

islands with both ORV and non-ORV use areas. In addition, I wanted to evaluate Cape

Hatteras' proposal to increase the number of nests relocated from ORV use areas to non-

ORV use areas. An independent one-tailed T-test confirmed my hypothesis. Emergence

success of nests (X = 63.82%, sd = 37.00) without overwash had a mean of 63.82 and a









standard deviation of 37.00. Emergence success with overwash had a mean of 28.87 and

a standard deviation of 40.60 (t = 6.76 and p = <.0001). Emergence success without

washout had a mean of 63.42 and a standard deviation of 36.92. Emergence success with

washout had a mean of 0.04 and a standard deviation of 0.33 (t = 23.97 and p = <.0001).

Sand and Beach Characteristics

In Hypothesis 12, I stated that the sand characteristics (sand size distribution and

water content) would not be significantly different between ORV and non-ORV beaches.

Only sand sieve size 120 had significant differences for ORV and non-ORV beaches. An

independent two-tailed T-test for ORV beaches had a mean of 0.36 and a standard

deviation of 2.98. Non-ORV beaches had a mean of 0.28 and standard deviation of 1.75

for sand sieve size 120 (t = 2.05 and p = 0.046).

In the first part of Hypothesis 13, I proposed that the beach characteristic slope

would not differ significantly between ORV and non-ORV beaches. The results affirmed

my hypothesis (Table 3-3, Group 2). The second part of the hypothesis stated that the

remaining beach characteristics (width, width adjusted for tidal variation, sand

compaction, sand temperature, and pedestrian use) would differ between the 2 site types.

Pedestrian activity, width, and standardized width differed significantly between ORV

and non-ORV beaches (Table 3-3). After widths were standardized to mean high tide, a

change of 0.2 m for ORV beach width and 0.06 m for non-ORV beach width was noted.

Whether widths were analyzed as observed in the field or standardized to mean high tide,

ORV beaches were significantly wider (Table 3-3). The third part of Hypothesis 13

stated that temperature for non-ORV beaches would be significantly greater. The t-value

for beach temperature at incubation depth was -2.661 and p-value was 0.0057. This

hypothesis was supported by an independent T-test (Table 3-3).









Based on a subjective visual assessment of all the beaches, I decided to test an

additional hypothesis that sand color would not differ between ORV and non-ORV

beaches. This hypothesis was confirmed for both hue and chroma. Only 2 samples out

of 125 were not light gray in hue. Those hues were gray and grayish brown, both within

the gray color family. The hue values for both ORV and non-ORV beaches were found

to be 7 on the Munsell Color Chart. An independent two-tailed T-test analysis of chroma

found no significant difference between the means (p = 0.37 and t = -0.90). The mean of

chroma of sand samples from ORV use areas was 1.82 and a standard deviation of 0.04.

Chroma of samples from non-ORV use areas had a mean of 1.90 and a standard deviation

of 0.08.

Table 3-3. 2005 Results from nesting and false crawl locations for the following variables
by Site Type (ORV and non-ORV): Group 1 Sand Characteristics, Group 2
Beach Characteristics for Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Cape Lookout
National Seashore, and Pea Island Wildlife Refuge, North Carolina, USA.
ORV non-ORV
Variable x SD x SD t p
Group 1 n=131
Size 18 sand 0.0455 0.08089 0.07054 0.1449 -0.905 0.3716
Size 35 sand 0.11141 0.09393 0.14659 0.1423 -1.274 0.2105
Size 60 sand 0.46644 0.1419 0.48292 0.161 -0.505 0.6158
Size 120 sand 0.36301 0.17909 0.28416 0.1871 2.047 0.0464
Water content 3.2902 2.97872 2.95937 1.7461 0.7749 0.4404
Group 2 n=103
Slope 5 43.2353 6.0625 3.9833 1.752 0.0827
Compaction 132.014 46.4484 125.438 41.218 0.7251 0.4709
Pedestrian use 2.67568 7.74085 8.5625 9.2464 -3.155 0.0013
Width 179.335 75.0232 120.732 36.43 5.3331 <0.0001
Standardized width 180.072 74.8936 120.49 35.24 5.4858 <0.0001
Temperature 27.3130 0.95003 28.3094 1.39227 -2.661 0.0057









ORV Counts

I counted vehicles present on the beach on 3 Friday nights for each island in the

study except Pea Island. Pea Island had a strongly-enforced non-ORV use policy and no

entrance ramps for ORVs. During the 2005 season on Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras,

only a single occurrence of a non-authorized ORV in the non-ORV area was observed.

However, non-ORV areas were driven routinely by Park personnel such as law

enforcement. There was much less ORV use on non-ORV beaches than ORV designated

beaches (Table 3-4).

Table 3-4. ORV counts during 2005 sea turtle nesting season for Cape Hatteras (Ocracoke,
Hatteras, and Bodie Islands) and Cape Lookout (South Core and North Core
Islands) National Seashores, North Carolina, USA. Park management at North
Core and South Core Islands allow both ATV and ORV use. In contrast, staff at
Ocracoke, Hatteras, and Bodie Islands allow ORV use only.
Island Date ATV ORV
North Core 6/10/2005 6 12
Ocracoke Island 6/17/2005 7
Hatteras island 6/17/2005 47
Bodie Island 6/17/2005 10
South Core 6/24/2005 4 23
North Core 7/1/2005 5 25
Bodie Island 7/8/2005 10
Hatteras island 7/8/2005 17
South Core 7/15/2005 2 15
North Core 7/22/2005 13 6
Ocracoke Island 7/28/2005 38
Bodie Island 7/29/2005 30
Hatteras island 7/29/2005 14
South Core 8/5/2005 2 11














CHAPTER 4
DISCUSSION

Sand and Beach Characteristics

In order to determine the effect of ORV use on nesting and nest success, it first was

necessary to determine whether ORV and non-ORV beaches differed in other

characteristics that might affect these outcomes. With the exception of sand sieve size

120, ORV and non-ORV study sites had similar sand composition (Table 3-3). However,

sand grain size was not a significant factor in determining the relationship between

nesting and false crawls on ORV versus non-ORV beaches (Table 3-1).

In some studies, nesting sea turtles favored finer grained sand types for nest laying

locations (Hendrickson and Balasingham 1966, Karavas et al. 2005). Conversely, the

lack of significance of sand grain size in nest site selection in my study was consistent

with several previous studies (Hirth and Carr 1970, Hirth 1971, Hughes 1974, Mortimer

1995, Stancyk and Ross 1978). The loggerheads' nest site selection in my study was not

significantly dependent upon sand grain size.

I found greater amounts of pedestrian activity on non-ORV beaches (Table 3-3),

perhaps indicating that pedestrians preferred non-ORV beaches. Although I initially

assumed that pedestrian activity might affect nesting or nest success (Arianoutsou 1988),

this was not the case in my study (Tables 3-1 and 3-2). This might be expected in the

event that most pedestrian use on non-ORV beaches occurred during daylight hours when

turtles were not present. This could be determined with additional study.









As expected, beach widths were greater on ORV beaches. This was probably a

direct result of the procedure used to designate beaches for ORV use. On Cape Hatteras

National Seashore width was the major criterion used for designating a beach for ORV

use. Any area with 46 m of dry beach (between high tide and vegetation) was open to

ORV use with a few exceptions. There was an area closed to ORV use for historic

purposes immediately in front of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Other areas could be closed

seasonally for wildlife or pedestrian use (National Park Service 1978). For example, a

"closure for sea turtle nesting habitat" is defined as an area of high-quality nesting habitat

that was closed prior to any sea turtle nesting attempt of the season. However, to my

knowledge, there has never been a closure for sea turtle nesting habitat, although there

have been temporary closures of short sections of a beach during an expected hatchling

emergence event. Thus, non-ORV beaches were, by definition, only relatively narrow

beaches.

Beach slope was found not to be a significant factor related to nesting or incubation

period. This was consistent with a previous study (AlKindi et al. 2003). However, other

studies suggested that slope was a significant factor in nest site selection (Provancha and

Ehrhart 1987, Horrocks and Scott 1991, Wood and Bjomdal 2000). However, slope did

not differ significantly between ORV and non-ORV beaches in my study (Table 3-3).

One study has shown there may be a correlation between moisture content of sand

and nest site selection (Hitchins et al. 2003). On the other hand, other studies of the

effect of sand moisture content on nest site selection have shown no relationship (Stancyk

and Ross 1978, Wood and Bjorndal 2000). Yet, the point may be moot, as there was no









significant difference in sand moisture content between ORV and non-ORV beaches in

my study (Table 3-3).

Although information on sand temperature was not available for my beach

characteristics model for 2000-2005, prior studies have not shown a significant effect of

sand temperature on nest laying (Wood and Bjomdal 2000). In the 2005 nesting season,

my study showed a significant difference between sand temperatures on ORV and non-

ORV beaches during the time eggs were being incubated (Table 3-3). This effect is

discussed in the Incubation section below.

False Crawl and Nest Laying

ORV use was a highly significant factor affecting the proportion of nests and false

crawls. The variable 'ORV use' had a greater impact on false crawl percentages than all

sand and beach characteristics.

Light in the 300-500 nm bandwidth is known to affect adult and hatchling sea

turtles (Bartol and Musick 2003, Gould 1998, Witherington 1992). My study focused

only on the effects of light on adult sea turtles. One study on the effect of artificial

lighting and nest site selection of adult female loggerheads found no correlation between

these factors (Kikukawa et al. 1999). In contrast, 2 other studies found that artificial

lighting deterred nesting females (Witherington 1992, Salmon et al. 1995).

ORV use was a significant factor in my study and had a more significant p-value

than 300-500 nm light. There were significantly greater amounts of 300-500 nm light in

non-ORV areas. The significance of 300-500 nm light in my study was likely to be

influenced by the significant relationship of 300-500 nm light to site type. The greater

amount of light on non-ORV beaches does not seem to explain the higher percentage of









nests to false crawls on non-ORV beaches. The data supported the presence or absence

of ORVs as the greatest factor affecting false crawl and nest laying.

The annual variation observed in the nesting activity in my study (Table 3-2) was

in accordance with known sea turtle nesting behavior. Several studies have shown that

loggerhead sea turtles returned to nest at intervals of 2 to 3 years (Frazer 1984,

Richardson and Richardson 1995, Ruitrago 1984).

Emergence Success and Habitat Quality

Emergence success was the only nesting activity factor not to reflect significant

influence from ORV use. However, it is essential to note that my analysis of emergence

success was conducted only after removing from the analysis the relocated, overwashed,

and washedout nests. When considering these nests, the emergence success of nests may

become problematic.

The permits which allowed nests in my study area to be relocated stated specific

requirements. The permits gave permission for relocation of nests in serious jeopardy of

being lost to the tide or buried under a collapsing escarpment. Assuming all relocations

of nests in the study area occurred legally under these permits from 2001-2005; the nests

in ORV areas were in greaterjeopardy of being lost. From personal observation in 2003,

2004, and 2005, most of the nests selected for relocation were not in danger of being

buried under collapsing escarpments, but may have been located in areas of potential tidal

overwash. Turtles crawling on ORV beaches with deep tire ruts did not dig their nests as

far from the tideline as turtles on beaches with fewer or no ruts. Turtles attempting to

nest on a beach with deep ruts may crawl parallel to the tire ruts (which usually run

parallel to ocean) until giving up and returning to the sea or laying a nest near the tideline









(personal observation). Perhaps this helps to explain why the frequency of relocated

nests on ORV beaches (49%) was significantly different from non-ORV beaches (42%).

My study indicated that both overwashed and washedout nests have significantly

lower average emergence successes (29% and 4%, respectively) than nests not subjected

to these factors (63-64%). Thus, overwash cut success in less than half, while washout

reduced success to almost zero. These findings supported what was known about sea

turtle nesting and the effects of tidal inundation (water from the ocean washing over a

nest) (Baskale and Kaska 2005).

Perhaps more importantly, I found that nests laid on non-ORV beaches had a

significantly greater occurrence of being overwashed or washedout than those laid on

ORV beaches (44% versus 16% for overwash; 14% versus 22% for washout). Even

though nests in non-ORV areas had a statistically similar mean success when the factors

of relocation, washout, and overwash were removed, the overall emergence success of

nests laid on non-ORV beaches was much lower when all nests were considered. Habitat

quality should be a determining factor for relocation site selection.

Even though beach width was not a statistical factor in overwash and washout, the

selection of only narrower beaches for non-ORV use seems not to benefit turtle recovery.

It appears logical that a narrow beach would be more subject to tidal inundation than a

wider beach of similar slope. The effect of beach width on nest emergence success

should be studied in greater detail, without the confounding effects of relocated nests and

ORV use versus non-ORV use, in order to determine whether nests laid on narrower

beaches are at high risk of low emergence success.









Length of Incubation and Possible ex Ratio Effects

The length of time (number of days) that eggs incubate in a nest is a factor that may

be of considerable importance. The 2 day difference in incubation periods for nests laid

on ORV and non-ORV beaches (Figure 4-1), was not significantly related to any of the

beach or sand characteristics. Although both the year of nest laid and the date laid were

shown to be significantly related to incubation duration, these variations are to be

expected in any in situ nesting study (Estes et al. 2003). In my study, however, there was

no significant difference in the mean date of nests laid on ORV versus non-ORV beaches.

On the other hand, ORV use was significantly related to incubation period, most probably

due to differences in sand temperature between ORV and non-ORV beaches.

Temperature at incubation depth (50 cm) was significantly lower on ORV beaches.

This most likely explains why ORV beaches had longer incubation periods. The factors

that typically affect temperature on beaches are: slope, sand color, and compaction

(Hayes et al. 2001). However, none of these factors differed significantly between ORV

and non-ORV beaches, nor were any of them significant when analyzed in models for

effect on incubation period. The results of my study thus indicate that ORV use is a

factor affecting incubation period.

Due to the temperature dependent sex determination of sea turtles, variations in

incubation period could be indicative of serious effects on the population. Warmer

incubation temperatures during the sex determining stage produce females (Godfrey et al.

2003, Merchant-Larios 2001). It has been demonstrated that lower incubation

temperatures generally result in longer incubation times, and that incubation time is thus

related to the sex ratio produced for loggerheads nesting in the southeastern United States

(Godfrey and Mrosovsky 1997. Thus, for a given incubation period in days, it is possible









to estimate the percentages of females produced. As shown in Figure 4-1, the 2 day

reduction in incubation period I observed on ORV beaches as compared to non-ORV

beaches results in an expected decline from 35% to 28% females produced (Godfrey and

Mrosovsky 1997). This represents a 20% decline in the numbers of females produced

([35-28]/35 = 0.2).


100--_ O 97 Field incubation
90 0.~ r =0.86
80
70-
5 60- 2 2
S50- *3
C \2
4 40 *
a 30
CL. *3
20
10
Key 1
Blue line non-ORV .** *1
Yellow line ORV 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80
Incubation duration (days)
Figure 4-1. Expected change in percentages of females due to mean temperature
differences between ORV and non-ORV beaches in North Carolina, USA
from sex ratio/temperature relationship (Godfrey and Mrosovsky 1997).

At first glance, 20% may not seem like a significant alteration, but further

consideration of sea turtle natural history and population trends reveals this is a

substantial skew of sex ratios. Loggerhead sea turtles are already in a population decline

and listed as threatened. A skewed sex ratio in such a long-lived, late-maturing species

could take decades to become evident in reduced numbers of nesting females, especially

in an area of relatively low-density nesting such as North Carolina. If this skewed sex

ratio has slowly increased over time (as ORV use on beaches increased during the past









several decades), it may cause damage to the population that would be difficult and

perhaps impossible to assess or correct. Unfortunately, sex ratios for adult and large

juvenile loggerheads have not been monitored over the past several decades.

Female loggerheads have been shown to return to the beaches of their origin to nest

(Webster and Cook 2001). Assuming strong nesting beach fidelity, in the long term there

will be fewer females in the absence of any compensatory mechanism to bring sex ratios

back to their natural levels for this rookery. If adult sex ratios reach a new equilibrium

with 20% fewer females, the possibility of species recovery will be greatly reduced.

Despite the fact that none of the other variables on sand or beach characteristics I

assessed were of significance, it may be possible that some factor other than ORV use

could explain the difference in sand temperature and length of incubation between ORV

and non-ORV beaches. When considering the potential effects on species recovery, the

most important element of these incubation differences was not why the differences

existed, but that the differences were present. However, in terms of conservation

programs, it may be important to determine the cause in hopes of being able to ameliorate

or mitigate the effect.

One possible explanation of increased incubation time due to ORV use is that sand

temperature differences were caused by small-scale topographic differences at the beach

surface. Tire ruts on a heavily or moderately driven beach extended from and sometimes

over vegetation and primary dunes to the tideline or past the tideline. There were

typically very few areas of dry beach not covered by tire ruts. Day after day (24 hours a

day in my study area), new tire ruts were made on top of existing ruts. The result was

deep rutting, typically at least 6 in (0.15 m) deep and not uncommonly up to a foot (0.3m)






60


deep. The rough surface topography of beaches altered by tire ruts to the smoother,

flatter surface of relatively unaltered beaches could result in less heat being absorbed

during daylight hours and/or more heat being re-radiated at night.














CHAPTER 5
MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS

My study of the effects of ORV use on loggerhead nesting activity has many

management implications. Currently, the Park Service at Cape Hatteras and Cape

Lookout has the goal of completing their first finalized ORV management plan by 2008.

The Park Service staff at Cape Hatteras has written an Interim Protected Species

Management Plan, and several elements of this study are relevant. The staff at Cape

Lookout is currently working on drafting an Interim Protected Species Management Plan.

Until ORV management plans are finalized, the interim plans will guide policies for sea

turtles and other species listed under the Endangered Species Act. At Pea Island, the U.

S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not allow ORV use. The results of my study do not

support the opening of Pea Island to ORV use, as the study did not find any beneficial

effects of ORV use on loggerhead nesting activity.

Management Requirements

To understand the requirements for the National Park Service to manage the effects

of ORVs on sea turtles, it is important to be aware of relevant policies and laws. National

Seashore management has undergone many changes since the 1930s. Today all Parks

and Refuges are legally bound to comply with laws, such as the Endangered Species Act

of 1973 and the Migratory Bird Act. The Parks must also comply with the management

guidelines printed in 2 handbooks by the Department of Interior: Management Policies

of 2001 and The Natural Resources Management Guidelines of 1991.









The National Park Service at Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras does not have an

incidental take permit. Such a permit is required when an activity causes the death or

potential death of endangered or threatened species (The Senate and House of

Representatives of the United States of America 1973). The permit typically is issued for

a certain amount of take, and if the activity exceeds the take, the activity is shut down.

Other beaches with ORV and loggerhead nesting have incidental take permits, for

example Volusia County, Florida, USA (Volusia County 1996).

The foundation of the Park Service stated in the Organic Act of 1916 is to,

"Manage the natural resources of parks to maintain them in an unimpaired condition for

future generations (p. 28)." These written policies are designed to set the framework on

which all park decisions are to be made. The Park Service's traditional practices, as well

as unwritten policies, are not recognized as official policies (National Park Service 2001).

There are management principles and policies that apply to natural resources within

the National Park Service. Sea turtles fall into 2 categories of resources to be managed:

native species and endangered species. The Park Service is bound to protect, maintain,

and restore the natural resources of a park (National Park Service 2001).

The Park Service is committed to restoring and preserving the behavior, habitat,

diversity, abundance, and distributions of native animals (National Park Service 2001).

Native species are insured protection from harassment, removal, destruction, and, in

some cases, harvest (National Park Service 1991). Human impacts are to be minimized

on native species. If the Park Service is uncertain about the impact an activity could have

on a resource, the Park Service should decide in favor of resource protection (National

Park Service 2001).









The Park Service is bound to meet all obligations listed in the Endangered Species

Act of 1973 and the Loggerhead Recovery Plan 1991 (National Park Service 2001). The

Park Service recognizes that endangered and threatened species cannot recover by habitat

protection alone, but will require active management (National Park Service 1991).

In a park setting, it is necessary to manage visitor use, as well as wildlife. The

principles governing visitor use are to, "promote and regulate appropriate use of the

parks, and will provide the services necessary to meet the basic needs of the park visitors

and to achieve each park's mission goals (National Park Service 2001 p. 79)." The Park

Service allows visitor activities that meet 2 requirements. The first requirement is that

the activity is appropriate as defined by the enabling legislation. Second, the activity can

not cause unacceptable impacts to natural resources. Any activity that would impair a

natural resource cannot be allowed. There is only one exception to this rule. The activity

must be allowed when directly mandated by Congress. In this case, ORVs do not fall

into this exception category. When an activity is found to impair a resource, but is

allowed by law and not directly mandated by Congress, the activity may be allowed in

cases that create no unacceptable impairment. The park also reserves the right to

discontinue or deny an activity that impairs a resource (National Park Service 2001).

In order to manage visitor use, a park manager may establish closures, restrict

approved activities, and/or limit hours of use. The practice of closing areas may be put

into place to protect native animals. A closure can be employed when a human activity

causes habitat loss, a reduction of productivity, and species avoidance behavior of the

area. Closures can be installed even if the closure affects visitor use (National Park

Service 1991).









There are 2 Presidential Executive Orders dealing with ORV use. President Nixon

addressed the issue in 1972 with Executive Order 11644. In this Order, the President

expressed the need for policies and procedures to regulate ORV use on federal land to

ensure natural resource and human safety. In 1977, President Carter issued Executive

Order 11989, which gave a government agency the power to limit or eliminate ORV use

in areas where there was resource damage on federal land (National Park Service 1978).

In an effort to comply with Nixon's Order, the management of Cape Hatteras made

several attempts at drafting an ORV management plan. None of the drafts has been

approved by Congress. The draft plan that Cape Hatteras managers used during a portion

of my study period was from 1978. For the remainder of my study period, Cape Hatteras

was not operating under an ORV management plan. This draft plan divided up the Park

into zones of use. Zone 1 was the ocean zone. In this zone, ORVs could use any area 20

ft (about 6 m) below the dune or vegetation line and 150 ft (about 45 m) from the high

tideline. In other words, any area with a width of 170 ft (about 51 m) between dune or

vegetation and the tideline would be open to ORVs. Zone 1 areas could be closed

seasonally if there were heavy pedestrian use or wildlife use. The size and conditions

under which a closure for sea turtles was established was explained in the Methods

Section (Chapter 2). The remainder of the Park was divided into 3 other zones. These

additional zones were not sea turtle nesting areas and will not be discussed (National Park

Service 1978).

During my study period, the Park Service at Cape Lookout was not operating under

an ORV management plan, but planned to implement one in the near future. There were

other islands within the Cape Lookout Park System that banned ORV use. These islands









were not included in my study due to their isolation and inconsistent nesting surveys.

The islands of Cape Lookout used in my study allowed ORV use along the entire stretch

of shoreline with a few exceptions. There was an area about 1/4 of a mile (0.4 km) long

located in front of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse that was closed to ORVs. In addition,

some areas that were closed for nesting shorebirds changed yearly.

Pea Island became a National Wildlife Refuge in 1937. It was established with the

purpose of providing a refuge and breeding ground for wildlife. ORV use was legal on

Refuge property until the 1970s. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Pea Island had

the most restrictive visitor use of the areas in my study. Visitors were limited to daytime

use, and there was a total ban on ORV use (U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Refuge Facts

n. d.).

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was created to protect, conserve, and enhance

fish, wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of the public. The Service has 3 main

objectives: develop and apply an environmental stewardship ethic, guide the

conservation of natural resources, and help the public appreciate and use wisely the

nature resources. Many functions are associated with these goals and mission statement,

but only a few apply to the management of nesting sea turtles.

Assisting in the recovery of federally listed threatened and endangered species is

another function of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Service must acquire,

protect, and manage ecosystems in order to sustain endangered species. Fish and

wildlife species are to be protected from habitat destruction, overuse, or pollution (U. S.

Fish and Wildlife Service 1998). In addition to considering a refuge's purpose and

mission statement, the refuge manager must follow the biological integrity, diversity, and









environmental health policy. Under this policy, a broad range of fish and wildlife found

on refuges and associated ecosystems are protected (U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

2001).

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service operates under a principle of 'wildlife first.'

This concept was introduced in the Refuge Improvement Act of 1997, "the fundamental

mission of our system is wildlife conservation: wildlife and wildlife conservation must

come first (p 3)." The concept of priority wildlife-dependent public use was also

established by the 1997 Improvement Act. Under this Improvement Act public use or

public use structures were generally not excluded from refuges. However, the

protection/restoration of biological integrity, diversity, and health may require temporal

or spatial zoning of public use (Senate and House of Representatives of the United States

of America 1997).

Implications for Future Management

My study provides vital information which should be incorporated into ORV use

policy. Nesting success, incubation period, habitat quality, and false crawl percentages

are all fundamental information for species management. The results could be integrated

into Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout's ORV Management Plans to be finalized by 2008.

The current stages of the planning process and sea turtle management differs

between Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National Seashores. Due to these policy

variations, the remainder of this chapter will be split into 2 sections. The first section will

address the management implications for Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The final

section addresses the management implications for Cape Lookout National Seashore.









Cape Hatteras

False Crawl and Nesting Laying

Cape Hatteras had higher false crawl percentages on ORV beaches. These false

crawl percentages could result in unnecessary energy expended by nesting female sea

turtles on ORV beaches. The amount of energy used by turtles on ORV beaches is

unknown. The energy expended in false crawls on ORV beaches might otherwise have

been used in egg production, growth, or body maintenance. According to the Cape

Hatteras' Interim Protected Species Management Plan, an elevated false crawl rate is

suspected on ORV beaches. My confirmation of this supposition should result in a study

by the Park Service to determine the effects of the false crawl rates on the loggerhead

population. The amount of excess energy exhausted by females attempting to nest on

ORV beaches also needs to be determined. Only then can informed ORV policies be

made.




















Figure 5-1. Loggerhead false crawl apex along tire rut on Ocracoke Island of Cape
Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina, USA in summer 2005. Photo by
Lindsay Nester.









There are ways to eliminate or mitigate an elevated false crawl rate. The effect

could be reduced by permitting a limited number of ORV users, closing the beach during

nighttime hours, prohibiting beach driving during the nesting season, and/or reducing the

mileage of beach currently open to ORV use. The only way to eliminate the effect of

ORV use on nesting sea turtles completely would be to close all beaches to driving.

Incubation

The potential for skewed sex ratio of hatchlings emerging from nests laid on ORV

beaches is alarming. Action should be taken to correct any potential sex ratio skew. In

order to completely correct a sex ratio skew, beaches should be closed to ORV use. It

should take only a few months for beaches to revert back to their natural state.

The risk to the population may be too great to allow this recreational activity to continue.

Currently, there is no solution that will allow the possible sex skew to be corrected while

allowing ORV use to continue. However, additional research should be conducted to

determine the specific cause or causes leading to differences in incubation duration of

nests laid on ORV and non-ORV beaches. Only by understanding the underlying

mechanisms behind such a difference can appropriate mitigation be instituted.

Habitat Quality

My study provided evidence that the habitat quality of non-ORV beaches was

inferior to ORV beaches. Virtually all beaches that were wide enough to be safely driven

were chosen as ORV use beaches, greatly limiting the amount of non-ORV nesting

habitat. Nests on non-ORV beaches suffered much higher rates of washout and

overwash. My study showed that washout reduced emergence success to almost zero and

overwash by more than half. The higher nesting percentages and increased threats of

overwash and washout on non-ORV beaches should be considered when determining an









area's ORV use status. Past geographic nesting trends and habitat quality should be

considered. ORV areas with high historic nesting percentages and low occurrence of

washout and overwash should be designated non-ORV. To expedite this process the Park

Service could refer to Volusia County, Florida's Habitat Management Plan. Volusia

County designated areas with high potential hatching success as non-ORV use areas.

These areas were also determined to have high historic nesting percentages (Volusia

County 1996).























Figure 5-2. Loggerhead hatchling crawling toward the Atlantic Ocean on Ocracoke Island
of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina, USA in fall 2004. Photo
by Lindsay Nester.

If a relocation permit is obtained, Cape Hatteras' 2006 Plan (Interim Protected

Species Management Plan) is to relocate nests blocking ORV use, which could result in

reduced emergence success. It has been the practice at Cape Hatteras to relocate nests in

ORV areas in danger of loss to tidal inundation, erosion, or collapsing escarpment. Nests

that met the relocation criteria were moved to non-ORV areas. Moving nests from a









beach with lower occurrences of washout and overwash (ORV beaches) to a beach with

higher occurrences (non-ORV beaches) is not beneficial for sea turtle recovery. Nests

should not be relocated to areas with historic levels of reduced emergence merely to

avoid the disruption of ORV use. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic

and Atmospheric Administration, and the Park Service should review past practices and

monitor future relocated loggerhead nests.

Hatchling disorientation was not an element of my study, but some lighting results

had implications for sea turtle hatchlings. There were greater amounts of light in the 300-

500 nm range that attract sea turtles on non-ORV beaches. Many of these non-ORV

areas were located on the narrow beachfronts at or near villages. Based on previous

studies of hatchling orientation, this light has the potential to disorient hatchlings (Bartol

and Musick 2003, Gould 1998), leading them landward rather than seaward upon

emergence from the nest. I recommend evaluating lighting, overwash, and washout

when selecting areas for ORV use. ORV areas with lower levels of artificial light in

wavelengths known to attract sea turtle hatchlings emerging from the nest or to

discourage adult females from coming ashore should be considered for closure to ORV

use during sea turtle nesting and hatching seasons.

Cape Lookout

False Crawl and Nesting Laying

At Cape Lookout National Seashore, ORV areas have higher percentages of false

crawls. The management staff of Cape Lookout should study the effect and amount of

energy expended during nesting attempts on ORV beaches. If the risk to the sea turtle

population is deemed too great, Cape Lookout should be closed to driving. The islands

of Cape Lookout are uninhabited and reachable only by boat. These islands are not









visited every day during the nesting season by law enforcement officials. Reducing areas

open to ORV use, reducing the number of ORV users on the beach, or reducing the time

of day ORV use is allowed would be difficult to enforce without daily law enforcement

presence. Unless Cape Lookout can create non-ORV nesting areas, the only option to

alleviate ORV effects is to close all beaches on North Core and South Core islands to

driving.

Incubation

All areas of the North and South Core Islands of Cape Lookout are open to ORV

use. Thus, my results indicate that all of the loggerhead nests on these islands possibly

contribute to a sex ratio skew. ORV use should be stopped in all areas of Cape Lookout

to correct this skew.

Habitat Quality

Due to the lack of non-ORV beaches at Cape Lookout, it was not possible to

complete a habitat quality analysis of the 2 site types. If Cape Lookout decides to have

nest relocation areas and non-ORV beaches, I recommend the management staff consider

habitat quality (overwash, washout, and relocation) when establishing these areas.

Despite the islands' uninhabited status, light pollution was still abundant. Due to

the lack of development on the islands, light from the nearby mainland was visible.

There was also an active lighthouse on South Core Island that contributed to light

pollution. If Cape Lookout managers decide to designate areas of non-ORV use for turtle

nesting, light intensity should be a consideration.

Conclusions

Sea turtle education programs involving children foster sea turtle conservation

awareness (personal observation). Children living near or visiting the coast should be









included in sea turtle nest excavations. Participating in the excavation will give children

an opportunity to see hatchlings up close and provide an unforgettable experience.

If beach drivers are required to obtain permits from the National Park Service for

legal driving on the beach, the permitting process could provide an educational

opportunity related to sea turtle conservation and the impacts of ORV use on sea turtles.

Potential ORV permittees could be required to read educational material or attend

presentations concerning the status of sea turtles and the potential effects of ORV use on

their recovery.

There are several possible resolutions that could reduce or eradicate the negative

impact of ORVs on loggerhead sea turtle nesting activity. Solutions that will reduce

ORVs' impact on sea turtles vary in effectiveness according to the location. Some

solutions to alleviate ORVs' impact include reducing the beach area open to ORV use,

closing the beach to ORV use during the nighttime hours, closing the beach to ORV use

during sea turtle nesting and hatching seasons, reducing the number of ORV users on the

beach at a given time and location, and educating the public on sea turtle conservation

issues. The only solution that will completely eliminate the negative impacts of ORVs on

the sea turtle population is to stop ORV driving on the beaches.
















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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Lindsay R. Nester received a Bachelor of Science degree from the State University

of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in 2003. She majored in

environmental forest biology. After college she took a year and a half hiatus from

academia to gain field experience. During this time she worked on an avian malaria

project in Hawaii and two sea turtle nesting seasons on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina.

In 2005, she started her graduate career at the University of Florida.