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Response of foraging shorebirds and nesting sea turtles to barrer island dynamics

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Title:
Response of foraging shorebirds and nesting sea turtles to barrer island dynamics
Added title page title:
Response of foraging shorebirds and nesting sea turtles to barrier island dynamics
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Lamont, Margaret M., 1968-
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English
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viii, 113 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Barrier islands ( jstor )
Beaches ( jstor )
Coastal capes ( jstor )
Coasts ( jstor )
Invertebrates ( jstor )
Ocean currents ( jstor )
P values ( jstor )
Sand ( jstor )
Sediments ( jstor )
Turtles ( jstor )
Barrier islands -- Environmental conditions -- Florida ( lcsh )
Sea turtles -- Nests -- Florida ( lcsh )
Shore birds -- Behavior -- Florida ( lcsh )
City of Apalachicola ( local )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Thesis:
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 2002.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 102-111).
General Note:
Printout.
General Note:
Vita.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Margaret M. Lamont.

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University of Florida
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Copyright {Lamont, Margaret}. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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ocm50511573

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RESPONSE OF FORAGING SHOREBIRDS AND NESTING SEA TURTLES TO
BARRER ISLAND DYNAMICS


















By

MARGARET M. LAMONT












A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2002





























Copyright 2002



by


Margaret M. Lamont














ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The completion of this research would not have been possible without the

cooperation and support of many agencies and individuals. Eglin Air Force Base (EAFB)

principally funded this research and provided invaluable logistical support and

equipment. The US Fish and Wildlife Service, Panama City office, also provided

funding and use of a sand shaker. Additional funding was received from the Florida

Ornithological Society.

I am extremely grateful for the support from my committee: Franklin Percival,

Karen Bjorndal, Bob Dean, and my committee chair, Ray Carthy. Their unique

perspectives and constructive advice were invaluable.

I also received much support from personnel in the Natural Resources Division of

EAFB, including Rick McWhite, Dennis Teague, Bruce Hagedorn, and Bob Miller, and I

thank them for their time, energy, and interest. I am especially appreciative of the

constant professional and personal support received from Carl Petrick. It was a pleasure

working with him.

I thank Dr. Kim Withers at Texas A&M, Corpus Christi, for her advice on

invertebrate sampling, and Dr. Frank Maturo in the Zoology Department at UF for his

assistance with invertebrate identification. Several statisticians in the IFAS Statistics

Help Program at UF were extremely generous with their time and patience, and I thank

them for their help.




111i








Personnel at BAE Industries on Cape San Bias went far beyond what was

required of them to provide assistance to me during my research, and I am extremely

appreciative of their efforts. I thank Don Lawley, Bob Whitfield, and Judy Watts for

making my research station comfortable, safe, and accessible. Mark Collier and Carl Fox

fixed refrigerators, built ATV sheds, put up signs, carried heavy objects, and helped with

the design and construction of many original and unique pieces of sampling equipment,

but most importantly they listened, kept me laughing, and provided friendship that I will

always value.

I am indebted to the efforts of several technicians, interns, and volunteers who not

only assisted with data collection, but demonstrated patience, humor, and insight

throughout this project. I thank Leslie Parris, Wendy Robinson, Ryan Sarsfield, Greg

Garner, Matt Chatfield, Kim Miller and Robin Abernethy. I am especially grateful to

Erin McMichael, who has provided support in every way throughout this research.

The support and efforts of personnel in the Coop Unit, especially Debra Hatfield

and Barbara Fesler, made conducting remote field work a little easier. I also thank

Monica Lindberg, Laura Hayes, Caprice McRae, and Polly Falcon in the Department of

Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida.

My friends, especially Steve Johnson, Dale Johnson, Julie Heath, Michelle

Palmer, Erin McMichael, and my family (Priscilla, David, Sally, Susan, Peter, Sam,

Rachel, Maggie, Eli, and Hannah) were patient, understanding, and loving throughout

this experience, and I could not have accomplished my goals without them.








iv















TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

ACKNOW LEDGM ENTS .................................... ................................................iii

A B STR A C T ............................................................................... .. .... ................... vii

CHAPTERS

1 IN T R O D U C T IO N ............................................................................ ...................... 1

2 WINDS, CURRENTS, AND SAND MOVEMENT ALONG CAPE SAN BLAS,
F L O R ID A .......................................... ........................................ ........................... ..... 6

Introdu ction ....................... .. ....................... .. .... .... ..... ........................ ......6
Study Site .................................................... ................... ..... 10
M ethods .................................. .. ................... ...................... 13
Results.................................................... ...... ..................... 15
D iscussion ..................... ........ .............. ................................. ......25


3 THE INFLUENCE OF BARRIER ISLAND DYNAMICS ON THE ABUNDANCE
AND DISTRIBUTION OF INTERTIDAL INVERTEBRATES AND SHOREBIRDS .32

Introduction ................... ............ ........ ................................................ .............32
S tu dy S ite ........ ..................................................... ............................................... 3 6
M eth o d s ........................ .......... ........ .. .. ................... ......................................... 3 7
R esu lts.............. ...................................................................................................... 44
D iscussion ............................................................. .. ..... ..............................67


4 THE INFLUENCE OF BARRIER ISLAND DYNAMICS ON NESTING
LOGGERHEAD TURTLES........... ................................................................ 77

Introduction......... .......... .......... .......................... .............................. ........ 77
M ethods ................... ............. ...... ............... ............. .. ................................. 80
R e su lts............ .... .... .... ..................................... .. .... ................................... 8 4
D iscussion ................. ...... ........ ................... ..................................... 89





V









6 CONCLUSIONS ............ ........ ......... ........................................................... 93

Sum m ary ................................... .............................................................. ........ 93
Management Recommendations.............................................................................96

LIST OF REFERENCES.............................. ................................................... 102

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH................................................................ ..................... 112















































vi














Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

RESPONSE OF FORAGING SHOREBIRDS AND NESTING SEA TURTLES TO
BARRIER ISLAND DYNAMICS

By

Margaret M. Lamont

May 2002


Chairman: Raymond R. Carthy
Major Department: Wildlife Ecology and Conservation

Current, wind, and tidal patterns create dynamic barrier island systems. To assess

the response of foraging shorebirds and nesting sea turtles to these ever-changing

conditions, erosion, wind and current patterns were monitored, tidal fluctuations

recorded, shorebird surveys conducted, intertidal invertebrates collected, and nesting sea

turtles tagged along Cape San Bias, Florida, from April 1998 through August 2000.

The submarine topography off Cape San Bias influenced the wind patterns in this

region, which affected current direction and distribution of sediment. The shallow shelf

off the east beach resulted in accretion whereas the deeper waters off west beach resulted

in erosion. Erosion occurred more often during west winds than east winds, indicating

the source of sand for this region lies east of Cape San Bias. Although sand grain size

along Cape San Bias was similar to that collected from the mouth of the Apalachicola

River, sand for this barrier island system most likely originates from a relict deposit of

sediments lying southeast of this region.


vii








In this dynamic environment spatial distribution of prey of shorebirds is

influenced by wave energy and sand movement rather than by tidal patterns. Temporally,

these dynamics affect reproductive timing of invertebrate species, which determines

seasonal changes in diversity and abundance of shorebirds. Although the habitat is

constantly moving, this shorebird community has remained stable. Severe disturbances,

such as tropical storms, that destroy habitat may cause fluctuations in shorebird

abundance and diversity.

Along Cape San Blas, turtles nested more often along the eroding west beach than

the accreting east beach. This may be due in part to a steeper slope and deeper waters off

west beach, which enable a nesting turtle to expend less energy while placing her nest

higher on the beach. The number of hatchlings that emerged did not differ statistically

between west and east beach, however there is most likely a biologically significant

difference in success between the two locations. More turtles nested along east beach

during a west wind, and nearly all turtles (98%) nested during a rising tide, which

indicates turtles may also use currents and tides to reduce energy expenditure during

nesting.



















viii













CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

Barrier island habitat produces both large-scale and small-scale variability. These

systems are influenced by daily tidal fluctuations, seasonal changes in wind patterns,

yearly storms, and long-term variations in sea level. Subtle changes in bathymetry and

geology can produce washover fans, ephemeral pools, and areas of erosion that create

small-scale variability within the system (Otvos 1981, Ross and Doherty 1994).

Variability in erosion rates has occurred on barrier islands along the Texas coast, with

only 55% of the coast eroding from 1930 to 1955, and 80% of the coast eroding from

1955 to 1975 (Morton 1979). Along the coast of west Florida, the position of inlets has

had a strong effect on local beach variability (Gorsline 1966), and on barrier islands

throughout the world formation of tidal deltas is dependent on wave energy and tidal

range (Hayes 1979).

Although barrier island habitat is extremely variable, many species rely on it for

survival. This habitat serves as nesting grounds for seabirds (Visser and Peterson 1994),

and as resting and foraging areas for many species of neotropical migrants (Kuenzi et al.

1991). It provides protection for beach mice and cotton rats (Johnson and Barbour 1990),

and supplies prey for mammals such as bobcats, coyote, and raccoons (Neuhauser 1976,

Johnson and Barbour 1990, Lamont et al. 1997). In addition, the thousands of

invertebrate species that inhabit the intertidal zone of barrier island beaches allow

shorebirds to forage successfully in these regions, and the sandy beaches provide nesting

habitat for sea turtles.


1





2

Prey for many shorebirds inhabit either the substrate or water column within the

intertidal zone; therefore longshore currents and shifting sands may influence the ability

of this prey to survive within extremely dynamic beaches (Croker et al. 1975, Knott et al.

1983, Skagen and Oman 1996). Invertebrate activity and availability are significantly

influenced by habitat variability, and because of the relationship between invertebrate and

shorebird abundance and distribution, this variability also affects foraging shorebirds

(Evans et al. 1976, Connors et al. 1981, Grant 1984). Sand movement along coasts may

also alter the size of foraging habitat available to shorebirds, thereby influencing

shorebird abundance and distribution (Goss-Custard and Yates 1992). Shorebirds

foraging along dynamic beaches must be able to respond to the constant changes in the

environment that influence their prey and alter their foraging habitat.

Sea turtles also depend on barrier islands for survival. Although these animals

spend the majority of their life at sea, their time spent onshore is critical. Adult females

leave the water to deposit eggs in a subterranean nest, from which hatchling turtles

emerge to crawl across the beach and enter the sea (Miller 1997). Identification of

appropriate nesting habitat may rely on environmental cues along the beach, such as

temperature, slope, salinity, and moisture (Johannes and Rimmer 1984, Garmestani et al.

2000, Wood and Bjorndal 2000). These cues may help turtles reduce energy expenditure

while increasing reproductive success; however, along barrier islands, these beach

characteristics are constantly changing. Turtles nesting along dynamic beaches may,

therefore, depend on oceanographic factors, such as currents, tides, and submarine

topography to aid in energy conservation and nest site selection (Hendrickson 1980,

Frazer 1983b, Mortimer and Portier 1989, Naito et al. 1990).





3

The instability of barrier island habitat is not the only challenge facing shorebirds

and sea turtles attempting to forage and nest in this environment. Barrier islands have

also become popular areas for human recreation (Johnson and Barbour 1990).

Development of coastal areas has destroyed much of the habitat used by these species,

and human activities along the remaining undeveloped beaches create disturbances

(Johnson and Barbour 1990). Much of the undeveloped habitat along barrier islands is

protected as refuges or parks, as private property, or as military lands.

Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) is one of the largest military installations in the

United States, encompassing approximately 250,000 hectares in Northwest Florida. The

majority of this property consists of longleaf pine forests, and Eglin AFB manages this

habitat through prescribed burns and environmental education. In addition to the main

reservation, Eglin AFB manages approximately 250 hectares of barrier island habitat

along Cape San Bias, (latitude 29 40' 10" N and longitude 85 20' 30" W) located about

200 km southeast of the main reservation. The habitats on Cape San Bias include pine

flatwoods, rosemary scrub, wetlands, and approximately 5-km of beach (Lamont et al.

1997). This barrier island habitat requires different management strategies from those

habitats located on the main reservation, but due to its distance from the main reservation,

biologists at Eglin AFB were unable to conduct an inventory that would provide data

necessary for proper management of this property. Therefore, in 1994, Eglin AFB

contracted the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Florida

to conduct an inventory of the natural resources located along Cape San Bias.

Results of this three-year study indicated that although Cape San Blas is

extremely dynamic it supports an abundant and diverse community of shorebirds and a





4


significant nesting group of loggerhead turtles (Lamont et al. 1997). The eastern coast of

Cape San Bias experienced accretion, gaining approximately 6 m along the entire profile

from June 1994 through September 1995, while the western beach lost nearly 10 m along

the entire profile during the same period. The most dynamic area was the cape spit,

which lost 23 m of sand during one three-week period from June to July 1994. Although

this coast was experiencing significant amounts of accretion and erosion, nearly 8,000

shorebirds of 26 species were recorded from April 1994 to April 1996, and a mean of 46

sea turtle nests were laid per season (May 19 through August 18). The influence of this

dynamic system on the community structure and life-history strategies of these species

was unknown.

To better understand how foraging shorebirds and nesting sea turtles respond to

barrier island dynamics along Cape San Bias, detailed information on the forces that have

created and maintained this dynamic system was necessary (Chapter 2). The constant

changes in beach morphology that occur due to these forces may influence the shorebird

community along Cape San Bias by affecting the abundance and distribution of their

prey. Assessment of invertebrate and shorebird abundance and distribution allowed

elucidation of this relationship (Chapter 3). An ever-changing beach may also influence

sea turtles attempting to nest; therefore the distribution and timing of loggerhead turtle

nesting, and hatchling emergence success of nests deposited on Cape San Blas were

investigated (Chapter 4). Finally, a synthesis of the relationship among beach dynamics,

shorebird community structure, and loggerhead turtle nesting distribution is discussed in

a system-wide context (Chapter 5).





5




To better understand the relationships between barrier island dynamics, foraging

shorebirds, and nesting sea turtles, the following objectives were defined:

1) examine the forces influencing the dynamics of this barrier island,

2) provide more detailed information on the patterns of sand movement within
this barrier island system,

3) assess influences of sand movement on the structure of the shorebird
community along Cape San Bias,

4) and determine the impacts this dynamic system has on the reproductive
strategies of the loggerhead turtles nesting in this area.













CHAPTER 2
WINDS, CURRENTS, AND SAND MOVEMENT ALONG CAPE SAN BLAS,
FLORIDA

Introduction

Formation and maintenance of barrier islands require abundant sand supplies.

Stabilization of sea level in the past 4,000 to 5,000 years has eliminated many of the

sources that have provided sand to barrier islands, and the remaining sources, such as

river effluents or exposed cliffs, are often local. Distribution of this sand will influence

patterns of erosion and accretion on nearby barrier islands, thereby affecting the

morphology and habitat of the barrier island system. Movement of sand within and

among barrier island systems is most often influenced by the wind patterns, current

patterns, and submarine geology of the region, and variations in these factors may

determine the stability of the system.

Winds influence sand movement through airborne transportation and creation of

ocean currents and waves. Fine-grained sand that is not stabilized by vegetation may be

picked up by wind currents and transported, which assists in barrier island development

and maintenance. During barrier island development, an offshore bar may form due to an

oversupply of sand and the action of waves and tides, and further development of this bar

into a barrier island may occur through deposition of aeolian sands (Stanley and Swift

1976). Winds may also assist in maintenance of barrier island systems by depositing

sand on beach ridges to help create and sustain dunes (King 1959, Johnson and Barbour

1990).



6





7

Although winds may have a direct effect on barrier island development and

maintenance through airborne transportation, their influence may be more significant

through the creation of waves and ocean currents. Most surface currents are driven by

wind. Along the coast, the direction the wind is traveling will influence whether currents

carry sediment onshore or offshore, thereby contributing to erosion or accretion (Stone et

al. 1992). Winds also influence wave height, direction, and speed. In shallow water,

waves will interact with the ocean floor, which will place some of the sediment lying

along the ocean floor in suspension, thereby making them available for transport (Hayes

1979). The angle of the beach, angle of wave approach, and amount of wave energy

influence net movement of sand by breakers on or off the beach (Hayes 1979). Sediment

placed in suspension by waves may also be picked up and transported by currents.

In addition to placing sediment in suspension and carrying it onshore and offshore

as breakers, waves also create nearshore currents that are major transporters of sand along

barrier islands. When waves strike the coast they release energy and generate currents

that flow parallel to the shoreline (Hayes 1979). The angle of wave approach is

positively correlated with the strength of this longshore current. Longshore currents are

often the primary method of sand transportation within barrier island systems (Swift

1975, Stone et al. 1992). Many of the barrier islands off Mississippi have foundations

that were formed through longshore drift aggradation (Otvos 1981), and morphology of

several barrier islands off Northwest Florida and Southeast Alabama is maintained by

sand that is transported into the system by longshore currents (Stone et al. 1992).

Longshore currents may cause erosion by carrying sand away from beaches or promote

accretion by transporting sand on to beaches. The influence of winds, currents, and





8

waves on barrier islands may be regulated by the submarine morphology of the

surrounding region (Swift 1975, Morton 1979, Otvos 1981). In shallow waters, the entire

water column may be influenced by wind, whereas in deeper waters, variations in

temperature and salinity create differences in density that form deep-water currents that

flow independently of the wind (Swift 1975). Therefore, a gently sloping continental

shelf may result in shallow waters that are primarily wind-driven. Water depth also

influences wave development, with deep water sustaining waves and shallow water

creating breakers (Swift 1975). A shallow continental shelf may allow formation of

breakers farther offshore than a deeper shelf, and this may allow more sediment to remain

in suspension for transportation. Gentle slopes and shallower waters also, however,

prevent large waves from building, thereby decreasing the amount of energy influencing

the coast (Swift 1975).

The wind, current, and wave patterns, in addition to the submarine geology, of the

northern Gulf of Mexico have permitted formation of a barrier island chain that extends

from Alligator Point, Florida to the eastern coast of Mexico. The shallow continental

shelf in the northern Gulf creates low wave energy, and large rivers, such as the

Apalachicola, Mobile, and Mississippi, are potential sources of sediment for these barrier

island systems (Kofoed and Gorsline 1963, Stauble 1971, Morton 1979, Otvos 1981,

Stone et al. 1992). Although many of the characteristics necessary for barrier island

development and maintenance appear to exist in this region, details of how these

mechanisms combined to form this barrier island system have been debated (Schwartz

1971, Fisher 1982).





9

Since the mid-1800's, there have been many theories as to how barrier islands

throughout the world form and continue to be maintained. In 1845, Elie de Beaumont

suggested barrier islands developed when wave action deposited sediments offshore and

created an emerging bar. This theory of barrier island development was accepted for

decades, until 1942, when Evans observed that bars in Michigan lakes were limited by

wave action from building above the water's surface. This suggestion inspired further

research on barrier island origins, which resulted in multiple theories and debate. Some

researchers argued barrier islands originated as onshore ridges and migrated offshore to

become barriers (Swift 1975), while others believed offshore ridges developed and

migrated onshore where they grew into barriers through longshore drift (Field and Duane

1976). From 1970 to 1973, as quickly as one theory about development of barrier islands

off North Carolina was proposed, another was published with evidence to the contrary

(Pierce and Colquhoun 1970, Cooke 1971, Hails 1971, Fisher 1973). Schwartz (1971)

attempted to reconcile this discussion by suggesting multiple modes of origin for this

system.

The debate about methods of barrier island development has also occurred for

systems in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1890, McGee suggested that coastal subsidence of

shore ridges resulted in formation of barrier islands in the Gulf. Stratigraphic studies on

Galveston Island, Texas, in the early 1950's, however, indicated these systems developed

through submerging shorelines (LeBlanc and Hodgson 1959, Shepard 1960), and in 1970,

Otvos claimed barrier islands off Mississippi developed from emerging shoals. The

depth and complexity of the research on barrier island development suggests there are

multiple types of barrier islands undergoing different forms of development due to





10

variations in controlling mechanisms, such as topography, sediment sources, and

meteorological conditions (Fisher 1982).

Variations in these mechanisms may also influence how barrier islands are

maintained once they have developed. In some areas, sediment for barrier islands may be

provided by river effluence whereas in others, it may be supplied by offshore sources

(Stauble 1971, Stone et al. 1992). The way this sediment is transported may also differ,

with waves acting as the primary force in some areas, and currents or tides providing the

primary mechanism in another (Kofoed and Gorsline 1963, Stauble 1971, Stone et al.

1992). To fully understand the dynamics of a specific barrier island system, the local and

regional mechanisms must be examined.

Although many studies have been conducted on the development and

maintenance of barrier islands along the northern Gulf of Mexico, few researchers have

conducted an integrated investigation of the primary mechanisms influencing one specific

barrier island (Tanner 1961, Stauble 1971, Stone et al. 1992). Many studies have focused

on the movement of sediment within the system (Stapor 1971, Stone et al. 1992), the

patterns of erosion influencing the coast (Morton 1979), or the geologic evolution of the

area (Wilkinson 1975). Few studies have integrated all of these aspects to investigate the

role of the barrier island within the local and regional system; therefore the objectives of

this study were to assess 1) wind speed and direction, 2) sand grain size, 3) and patterns

of erosion along Cape San Bias, Florida.

Study Site

Located in Northwest Florida, Cape San Bias (latitude 290 40' 10" N and

longitude 850 20' 30" W) comprises the southern tip of the St. Joseph Peninsula (Fig. 2-

1). This peninsula is approximately 21 km long and between 450 and 1400 km wide,





11


runs north/south, and is convex gulfward (Stauble and Warnke 1974). Research for this

project was conducted along 5 km of beach, which encompassed the extreme southern tip

of the peninsula. The region south of Cape San Bias consists of shoals that extend

southward approximately 16 km into the Gulf of Mexico (Stauble 1971; Fig. 2-2). To the

northeast of the shoal is a basin that gradually slopes seaward and is characterized by

smooth topography (Kofoed and Gorsline 1963, Stauble 1971). Southeast of the shoal is

an area of ridges and swales that run from east to west, paralleling the shoreline, and

along the west and northwest is a smooth, gently-undulating, seaward-sloping shelf that

contains seven depressions greater than 13m (Stauble and Warnke 1974).


Holmes
Jackson
Santa Rosa Okaloosa
Esca bi Walton (Washington | Gadsden

(.' q' ) r^- ^ Chn t L- J Leon (
Calhoun Leon
Bay
Liberty \ Wakulla

Gulf
Franklin




< Cape San Bias



Figure 2-1. Cape San Bias, located on the southern tip of the St. Joseph Peninsula in the
Florida Panhandle, is part of a dynamic barrier island system along the northern Gulf of
Mexico.

It is believed that Cape San Bias formed through offshore shoal aggradation

during the Holocene, approximately 4,000 to 5,000 years ago (Otvos 1981). Prior to the

Holocene rise in sea level, the Apalachicola River delta spanned an area of approximately

150 km, from present day Panama City to the Ochlocknee River (Kofoed and Gorsline





12

1963). This delta provided the region with a large source of sand, and as sea level rose,

this sediment was drowned. Wave and current patterns may have aggraded this excess

sediment causing formation of barrier islands (Otvos 1981). Eventually, these climactic

and geologic changes shifted the delta approximately 15 km south or southeast to its

present-day location approximately 25 km east of Cape San Bias, and caused it to narrow

to its present width of approximately 12 km (Gorsline 1966, Kofoed and Gorsline 1963).














St. Joseph
Peninsula


shelf

'r .... l ~ Cape San
Bias

depressions

basin .'. .'..


ridge and

shoals: swa"

Figure 2-2. A schematic drawing of the bathymetry off Cape San
Blas, Florida, from Stauble and Warnke (1974).





13


Methods

Sand Grain Size

To assess size of sand grains along Cape San Bias, sand samples were collected

from the mean high water mark and in front of the dunes at four Florida Fish and Wildlife

Conservation Commission (FWCC) benchmarks (Fig. 2-3). Cores were constructed from

five cm PVC pipe that was seven cm in diameter, and were long enough to gather

samples at a depth of 30 cm. In January and August 2000, samples were also collected

from the tip of the St. Joseph Peninsula, the middle region of the peninsula

(approximately 8 km south of the tip), and the entrance of St. Joseph State Park (Eagle

Harbor). In addition, sand was collected from the bottom of the Apalachicola River at

the mouth and five kilometers upstream. The upstream site was located along a small

bend in the river. One sample was taken in the center of the channel, one along the east

edge and one along the west edge. The east edge encompassed the outside of the curve in

the river and the west edge was located on the inside of the bend. After collection, sand

was dried in a warm (approximately 1750) oven for about two hours and separated by

grain size in a standard sand shaker. A Student's t-test was used to assess the significance

of differences in grain size between the dune and mean high water, and among

geographic locations (Zar 1984).

Wind

Wind patterns along Cape San Blas were assessed using data gathered by a

National Weather Service C-Man station located at mile-marker 2.2 on Cape San Bias

(Fig. 2-3). Data available from the weather station included date, time, speed of wind

gusts, barometric and atmospheric pressure, dew point, wind direction, and wind speed.





14
























Figure 2-3. The location of FWCC benchmarks 107, 110, 121, and 123, and
a National Weather Service station along Cape San Bias, Florida as shown
on an aerial photograph of the region from 1999.



For analysis, wind directions were divided into eight categories of 45 degrees each: north,

northeast, east, southeast, south, southwest, west, and northwest. A logistic regression

was used to determine if a significant relationship existed between wind direction and

erosion.

Currents

During the 2000 summer season, buoys were deployed weekly at the four FWCC

benchmarks to determine nearshore current patterns and velocities. Buoys consisted of

frozen grapefruit. Grapefruits were launched from the water's edge using a modified

slingshot attached to the rear of a four-wheel drive pickup truck. The buoys were

observed as long as possible by personnel who were onshore. Every 15 minutes, time,





15

distance, and wind speed and direction were recorded. In addition, launch and retrieval

locations were recorded with a GPS unit. To estimate the amount and direction of sand

transported by the longshore current (longshore drift), daily oceanographic observations

following those of Schneider and Weggel (1982) were conducted at one benchmark on

east beach (121) and one along west beach (110) from April through August 2000. Data

collected included wave period, direction, and type, breaker height, wind speed, current

speed and direction, foreshore slope, and width of the surf zone. These data were then

used to calculate longshore drift using the equation of Walton (1980), which incorporates

fluid density, acceleration of gravity, breaking wave height, width of surf zone, mean

longshore current velocity, distance of buoy used to determine current velocity from

shore, and a friction factor (0.1). The relationship between current direction and wind

direction, and between current direction and sand movement was assessed using logistic

regression in Minitab (Minitab, Inc. 1996).

Topography

Topographical measurements occurred along the west and east beaches of Cape

San Bias twice a month during sea turtle season and once a month throughout the

remainder of the year. Transects originated at the same four benchmarks where sand

samples were collected. Heights were obtained using a laser transit and were recorded

every five meters along the transect, as far into the Gulf of Mexico as possible.

Results

Sand Grain Size

Sand samples were collected 11 times along Cape San Bias from June 1999 to

June 2000, twice along the St. Joseph Peninsula (January and August 2000), and once

within the Apalachicola River (August 2000). At each location on Cape San Bias, sand





16


collected from mean high water was coarser than that collected from the base of the

dunes (p < 0.01; Fig. 2-4). The largest grains were recorded from sand collected just east

of the cape spit at benchmark 121, and the smallest grain size was documented in sand

collected from the most northern benchmark (107; Table 2-1). Along the St. Joseph

Peninsula, there was no significant difference in the size of sand grains collected at mean

high water and the dunes (Fig. 2-5). The largest grains were recorded in sand collected

from Eagle Harbor. Sand grain size was similar between the middle and the tip of the

peninsula. Size of sand grains collected from mean high water did not differ between

Cape San Bias and the St. Joseph Peninsula; however sand grains from the dunes on the

St. Joseph Peninsula were larger than those from the dunes on Cape San Bias (p < 0.05).

Sand collected from the mouth of the Apalachicola River was similar to the mean size of

that collected along the dunes on Cape San Bias, differing by only 1.7 htm (Fig. 2-6).

Two kilometers up river, sand grain size was coarser than sand collected from anywhere

on Cape San Bias or the St. Joseph Peninsula. In this area, the smallest grains were

collected from the center of the river channel, and the largest grains from the western

edge of the river

Winds

Wind direction was gathered every day from May 1998 through August 2000

(Table 2-2). During the fall and winter, the wind blew primarily from the north and east

(N, NE, E), whereas during the spring and summer it blew mainly from the south and

west (S, SW, W).






17






mean high water dn

a1
.... ... ........
... ... .
.....
:P ii............
........ ..
--:-.. ......... .....


..........
.......... .....
.. .. ... .. ... .. ... .. ... :. .. .
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ...
.. . . .
... ... ... ... .. I I .. ..
.... ... ... ... ... .. .
.. .......
.. . .

.... ...... .. .... ...
.... 1 1 ..... ... R ... ....~ii i f in
.......... .... .......




.... ....... .... .. ..... ....: i~i ~ ~ ~ ~i~iiii~ ~iii~i~i



... .......... ....ansze(l)o a d olce ro e c m rs12 a n 2
. . . . . . .1 7 d ) a l n g w e t e a h f ~ p e S a B a s
.. ......... ... ..







18







mean high water dune





0 :: ........::~i~
.. .... .. ... ..
... .. ... .. ... ..... .. ... .. ..
.. .. .. .





X X. ..... .. ... Xii
..... ...
........... I... .. ........
...........
.... .... ..... .....
ixil..........
...... .. ..

.. .. .... .. .
... .. .. ... ... .. .... ...

c .......... : ..... ~i~
........ ..... ...... .....
X .. ...... .... .... ... .. .. ..
.. .. .. . .. .. .. .. . .
..... ....... ...... ... .... ...... ..... ..... .......

.. .. ... .. .. ... .. .........


Fiur 25.Sie .......... .....men ig w tr ndth b seo
the du es ....... ............................ ....... and harbo
........ .. .. .. ... .. .. .. ... .. .. .. .. .. .. ..





19










































Apalachicola River, along the center and edges of the channel five-
S180


.... .425



S...............................sieve botto











kilometers upstream, and from the mouth of the river.





20



Table 2-1. Mean grain size of sand (gtm) collected from Cape San Bias (CSB) and St.
Joseph State Park. On CSB, sand was collected at four Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission benchmarks: two along west beach and two on east beach.
Within St. Joseph State Park, sand was collected at Eagle Harbor, mid-way between the
harbor and tip, and along the tip of the peninsula.

CSB West CSB East St. Joseph State Park
107 110 121 123 Eagle Harbor mid-point tip
MHW 267.4 273.3 288.1 274.3 290.3 253.9 252.9
Dune 229.6 232.2 236.5 230.4 261.3 244.1 248.0


Table 2-2. Grain size (p~m) of sediment collected from the Apalachicola River
at the mouth, and from five kilometers upstream in the center and the east and
west edges of the channel.
river mouth upriver center upriver east upriver west
Grain Size 230.5 326.9 339.0 1222.9


Currents

Current speed and direction were observed on 13 days from April 2000 through

August 2000. Along east and west beach, there was a positive relationship between wind

and current direction (p < 0.001; Fig. 2-7). This relationship was also observed from

results of oceanographic observations. Observations were collected for 57 days from

April through August 2000. Along west beach, the current traveled west on 21 (36.8%)

days and east on 36 (63.2%) days. When the current flow was west (W), the wind blew

primarily from the NE, E, SE or S (85.7%), and when it traveled east it blew most often

from the SW, W, NW or N (81%; p < 0.0001). Along east beach, the current traveled

west on 14 (25.4%) days and east on 41 (74.6%) days. When the current flow was

westerly, the wind blew from the N, NE, E, or SE as often (50%) as when it blew from

the NW, W, SW, or S (50%). However, when the current traveled east, the wind blew

primarily from the NW, W, SW, or S (80.5%; p = 0.013).











a. b.























Figure 2-7. Along Cape San Bias, Florida, current direction is influenced by wind direction. From June 1998 through
August 2000, when the wind blew from the east (a), currents moved to the west, and westerly winds (b) resulted in
easterly currents.











Table 2-3. Percentage of the time the wind blew from one of eight directions (N = north, NE = northeast, E = east,
SE = southeast, S = south, SW = southwest, W = west, NW = northwest) per season from May 1998 through August
2000 along Cape Sna Bias, Florida.
January February March April May June July August September October November December
N 17 17 13 12 8 6 6 8 15 22 23 18
NE 16 12 9 7 7 13 9 13 29 33 27 24
E 29 18 16 7 6 8 7 10 18 18 16 24
SE 12 13 16 18 17 13 10 8 10 8 10 15
S 5 9 10 13 12 13 11 13 5 3 6 3
SW 3 9 11 15 25 20 21 18 6 2 2 1
W 7 11 12 16 17 20 25 21 8 5 4 4
NW 11 11 13 11 8 7 11 8 8 8 12 11






23



2.00


1.50 1998
1.50 "=............... 1999

2000
1.00 water line


0.50-


0.00
,- 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 | 55 60 65
S o distance (m)
-0.50 ,,


-1.00


-1.50

Figure 2-8. Profiles of the beach along the west coast of Cape San Bias, Florida, from
1998 to 2000. The profiles began at a FL FWC benchmark and ran along the dunes,
over the beach face, and as far into the water as possible. The water line represents the
tidal height at the time of sampling.



3.00

2.50 1998
y ^ ................ 1999

2.00 00

1.50 -

1.00

0.50

0.00
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 \140
-0.50 distance (m)

-1.00
Figure 2-9. Profiles of the east beach of Cape San Bias, Florida from 1998 through 2000.
The profiles began at a FL FWC benchmark and ran along the dunes, over the beach face, and
as far into the water as possible. The water line represents the tidal height at the time of
sampling.





24








KILOMETERS




N

Apalachicola

S| River









/- ..












WEST t EAST WIND
WIND 0 +




Figure 2-10. Along Cape San Bias, Florida there is a relationship between wind
direction and sand movement. Winds from the east result in accretion (+), whereas
those from the west cause erosion (-).





25


Topography

From September 1998 to August 2000, west beach lost 4.95 m of sand along the

entire profile (Fig. 2-8). Individual points along the profile differed; the greatest loss (-

1.17 m) occurred 30 meters from the benchmark whereas the first 15 m of the profile

gained 0.16 m. During this period, east beach gained 3.78 m of sand along the entire

profile (Fig. 2-9). The greatest gain (0.61 m) occurred 35 m from the benchmark, while

the greatest loss (-0.18 m) was documented 45 m from the benchmark.

There was a significant relationship between wind direction and sand movement.

On both beaches, accretion occurred more often when the wind blew from the east than

when it blew from the west, whereas erosion occurred more often during winds from the

west than those from the east (p < 0.05; Fig. 2-10). There was no seasonal variation in

sand movement.

Discussion

The submarine topography off Cape San Bias influenced the wind patterns in this

region, which affected current direction and distribution of sediment within this barrier

island system. Cape San Bias lies along the large, smooth, inner subsection of the West

Florida continental shelf in the northern Gulf of Mexico (Bergantino 1971). This gently

sloping shelf typifies the submarine topography of the eastern Gulf of Mexico and results

in water depths of less than 180 m (Bergantino 1971). These shallow waters are greatly

influenced by winds therefore oceanographic currents in this area are primarily wind-

driven. The shallow shelf also prevents buildup of large waves therefore this area of the

coast is generally considered one of moderate energy (Tanner 1960, Tanner 1961, Kofoed

and Gorsline 1963). This area is not uniform, however. The spit that extends from Cape

San Bias into the Gulf of Mexico divides this shelf into two basic regions. East of the





26

shoal the shelf is smooth and slopes gently offshore. Waters do not reach depths of 15 m

until approximately 20 km offshore. West of the shoal, the shelf undulates seaward and

contains several deep depressions (Stauble and Warnke 1974). Off this coast, waters may

reach 15 m in depth within approximately 6 km (Stauble 1971). Local variations in shelf

depth to the east and west of the Cape San Bias shoals create differences in the amount of

wave-energy that influence these coasts. Deeper waters off west beach allow larger

waves to form than the shallow waters off east beach do, therefore west beach

experiences greater wave energy than east beach (Tanner 1961, Gorsline 1966). The

mean wave height off east beach is almost zero, whereas mean wave height off west

beach is approximately 30 cm (Gorsline 1966). The wind-driven currents and variations

in wave energy along Cape San Bias create the dynamic system that maintains this barrier

island.

Although wave action is minimal in this area, erosion has been severe. Results of

this study support those of Tanner (1975) and Balsillie (1981) indicating extreme erosion

along the western coast and accretion along the eastern beach. Comparison of this sand

movement with wind patterns indicates sediment is transported to Cape San Bias during

easterly winds. Because winds blow from the east predominately in fall and winter,

accretion potential is greater during these seasons; however seasonality in erosional

patterns was not observed during this study. Daily variations in wind speed and

direction, and sampling design most likely caused this insignificant relationship. Profiles

of the beach were conducted at most, every other week. If measurements were recorded

immediately following one day of strong east winds, accretion would be documented.

The remainder of the time period, however, winds may have blown from the west and





27

erosion may have occurred, but this was not observed due to timing of sampling. To

accurately assess seasonal variation in erosion and accretion along Cape San Bias,

profiles should be conducted daily; however this was logistically difficult within the

scope of this project due to the time and effort required to complete topographical

profiles. Although there was no significant seasonality to the pattern of erosion and

accretion, there was a significant relationship between wind direction and sand

movement, which indicated the primary source of sediment for Cape San Bias is located

east of this region.

Three primary sources of sediment have been suggested for Cape San Blas:

erosion of local headlands, effluence of the Apalachicola River, and relict sands

deposited prior to the Holocene rise in sea level (Tanner 1964, Schnable and Goodell

1968, Stauble and Warnke 1974). Tanner (1964) suggested erosion of local headlands is

the most likely source of sediment for this area because of the extreme erosion that

occurs in this region. He suggested most of the sediment carried in the Apalachicola

River remains within the Apalachicola Bay system. In addition, Stapor (1971) identified

six longshore drift compartments between the Apalachicola River and St. Joseph

Peninsula, with little net exchange of sand among them. He suggested sand deposited

along the northern tip of the St. Joseph Peninsula was originally eroded off the west

beach of Cape San Bias. Therefore, these barrier island systems may not be supplying

new sediment, but re-distributing what was already deposited.

Results of this study indicate a redistribution of sand may occur within this barrier

island system, although this may not serve as the primary source of sand for Cape San

Bias. Sand grain size along the St. Joseph Peninsula was similar to sand collected along





28

the east and west beaches of Cape San Bias. Possibly, sand deposited along the northern

peninsula is picked up along the west beach of Cape San Bias. As this sediment is

transported northward by longshore drift, coarser sand may drop out of suspension

earlier, thus the larger mean grain size from sand collected at Eagle Harbor. Mid-way up

the peninsula, sand grains of intermediate size were deposited, while the finest grains

were dropped along the tip of the peninsula. This also supports Stapor's (1971) theory

that Cape San Bias and the St. Joseph Peninsula should be considered one longshore drift

compartment.

Sand deposited along Cape San Bias, however, most likely originates outside of

the St. Joseph Peninsula. Sediment is dropped along Cape San Blas primarily when

winds blow from the east. Because the St. Joseph Peninsula lies northwest of Cape San

Bias, when winds blew from the east, sand from the Peninsula would be carried away

from Cape San Bias, thereby removing this area as a potential source of sand for Cape

San Bias. Therefore, there must be another source for sand deposited along Cape San

Bias, such as the Apalachicola River or a deposit of relict sediments to the east. The

Apalachicola River carries sediment nearly 1,500 km through Georgia, Alabama, and

northern Florida before reaching the Gulf of Mexico (Leitman et al. 1991). Heavier,

coarse-grained sand drops out of suspension along the edges of the river, and finer

sediment is carried in the center of the channel. This was observed in samples collected

within the river during this study. The heaviest portions of this fine-grained sediment

drop out of suspension in the mouth of the river. Kofoed and Gorsline (1974) reported

sand grain size in Apalachicola Bay decreased with distance from the mouth of the river.

They suggested the finest sediments remained in suspension and were deposited





29

primarily in the smooth, broad depression located along the northwest corner of the bay

(Kofoed and Gorsline 1974). This area is protected from wave energy by the topography

of the bay, therefore it traps much of the sediment deposited by the river.

It has generally been accepted that the Apalachicola River is not the primary

source of sand for Cape San Bias (Tanner 1964, Schnable and Goodell 1968, Stauble and

Warnke 1974). The wave energy in this region is believed to be too weak to distribute

sediment deposited into Apalachicola Bay by the river (Tanner 1960, 1964). Much of the

sediment from the Apalachicola River is deposited in the broad depression in the

northwest of the bay and in the barrier islands surrounding the bay. According to Tanner

(1964) these barrier islands contain enough sand to account for the total sand load of the

river for approximately 5,000 years. This leaves very little sediment available for

transport and deposition outside of the Apalachicola Bay.

Although not all of the sand deposited on Cape San Bias may have originated in

the river, analysis of sand grain size during this study supports the idea that some of the

sediment on Cape San Bias was transported from the Apalachicola River. Sand grain

size reported by Kofoed and Gorsline (1963) from the mouth of the river (250 um) was

similar to grain size collected from that region during this study (231 um), and from the

east (281 um) and west (270 um) beaches of Cape San Bias. Perhaps the majority of

fine-grained sediment carried by the river is deposited within the Apalachicola Bay, but

coarser sand remains in suspension and is deposited when it reaches Cape San Bias.

According to Kofoed and Gorsline (1963) the majority of sand in the Apalachicola Bay is

less than 100 um in size indicating a portion of the larger grained sediment may be

transported out of the bay.





30

The Apalachicola River may serve as a secondary source of sand for Cape San

Bias; however a large portion of sediment deposited in this region most likely originates

from another source. Analyses of sand samples collected offshore of Cape San Bias

indicated an area of relatively coarse (250 to 1000 um), relict, quartz sand located

between Cape San Bias and Cape St. George (Kofoed and Gorsline 1963). Many

researchers believe this area serves as the primary source of sand for this barrier island

system (Kofoed and Gorsline 1963, Stauble and Warnke 1974) and results of this study

support these beliefs. Grain size of sand collected along Cape San Bias during this study

(267 to 288 um) was similar to that observed within this deposit of relict sand (250 um).

In addition, because this potential sand source lies southeast of Cape San Bias, this

sediment is available for transport to the area in easterly winds (Kofoed and Gorsline

1963). Perhaps, easterly winds create westward flowing currents that place the finer

sediments of this relict deposition in suspension. The currents carry this sediment to

Cape San Bias, where it is dropped along the coast.

In addition to sand grain size, it is apparent from patterns of accretion and erosion

that the source of sand for Cape San Bias lies east of the region. Most likely, the

Apalachicola River provides a small portion of that sand, while a deposition of relict sand

offshore of Cape San Bias serves as the primary sand source. Perhaps, winds from the

east create ocean currents that carry coarse-grained sediment from the Apalachicola River

westward to Cape San Bias. In addition, these currents place the finer sediments of the

relict sand deposits in suspension and carry them westward. Much of this sediment may

be dropped once it reaches the shallow waters of the basin and Cape San Bias shoals,

which results in accretion along the east beach of Cape San Bias. This removal of sand





31

from the water column east of the shoals would limit the amount of sand available to the

west beach of Cape San Bias, which would contribute to erosion in this area. Some fine-

grained sand may remain in suspension while traveling over the shoals, which would

permit some accretion on west beach during east winds.

Winds from the west, however, may create ocean currents that carry sediment

from the Apalachicola River and the relict deposit eastward, away from Cape San Bias.

Because no local source of sediment lies west of Cape San Bias, currents originating in

the west may not carry sediment to Cape San Blas and may cause erosion. Therefore, the

east beach of Cape San Bias accretes because it receives sediment during east winds and

is buffered from sediment-poor westward currents by the cape shoals. The west beach

erodes because sand transported during east winds is dropped east of the cape spit, and no

source of local sediment is available for transport during west winds.

Maintenance of the Cape San Bias system occurs through wind-driven currents

that carry sediment from an offshore deposit of relict sands. The submarine topography

of the region surrounding Cape San Bias has created this system, and the characteristics

of this topography promote mechanisms that drive the dynamics of this barrier island.













CHAPTER 3
THE INFLUENCE OF BARRIER ISLAND DYNAMICS ON THE ABUNDANCE
AND DISTRIBUTION OF INTERTIDAL INVERTEBRATES AND SHOREBIRDS


Introduction

Changes in coastal habitat may greatly influence foraging shorebirds. Because

prey for many shorebirds inhabit either the substrate or water column within the intertidal

zone, longshore currents and shifting sands may influence the ability of these prey to

survive within extremely dynamic beaches (Croker et al. 1975, Knott et al. 1983, Skagen

and Oman 1996). Sand movement along coasts may also alter the size of foraging habitat

available to shorebirds thereby influencing shorebird abundance and distribution (Goss-

Custard and Yates 1992). Shorebird communities foraging along dynamic coasts must

respond to the ever-changing environment and the influence these changes have on

availability of prey and ability of foraging habitat to remain stable and persist.

Shorebirds foraging in coastal habitats feed primarily on intertidal invertebrates.

Skagen and Oman (1996) compiled data on prey taken by 10 of the most common

shorebird species in the western hemisphere. Of the 55 orders of invertebrates eaten by

these species, approximately 60% inhabit the intertidal zone. The abundance and

distribution of these invertebrates often determine the abundance and distribution of

shorebirds. In the Mad River estuary, California, differences in shorebird abundance

were attributable to variations in abundance of one amphipod genus (Corophium spp;

Colwell and Landrum 1993), and along the Wash, England, changes in invertebrate



32





33

densities were the main factors determining spatial variations in shorebird densities

(Yates et al. 1993). Availability of invertebrates may also influence distribution of

shorebirds. Along Bodega Bay, California, sanderlings (Calidris alba) moved from the

outer beach to harbor sandflats when receding tides caused reduced invertebrate

availability along the outer beach (Connors et al. 1981). Because shorebird abundance

and distribution is closely related to invertebrate availability, changes in the invertebrate

community may greatly affect shorebird foraging.

Invertebrate activity and availability is significantly influenced by habitat

variability, and because of the relationship between invertebrate and shorebird abundance

and distribution, this variability also affects foraging shorebirds (Evans 1976, Connors et

al. 1981, Grant 1984). For example, many invertebrates burrow more deeply in cold

weather, at low tide or in windy conditions, making them less accessible to many

shorebird species (Evans 1976, Pienkowski 1981). Larger sand grains may interfere with

a shorebird's ability to capture smaller infaunal prey, and softer, more penetrable

sediment permits faster and deeper probing by shorebirds (Burger et al. 1977, Quammen

1982, Grant 1984). Increased amounts of rain interfere with invertebrate surface

activities, and without the feeding or respiratory structures protruding above ground,

many shorebirds are unable to extract these invertebrates from the sediment (Goss-

Custard 1970, Pienkowski 1981, Dodd and Colwell 1998). Therefore, climactic and

structural variability in the habitat directly affects invertebrate abundance and distribution

thereby influencing shorebird foraging.

Extreme changes in the habitat due to erosional processes may cause changes in

community structure of intertidal invertebrates. Seasonal changes of intertidal





34

invertebrate communities in the tropics are often associated with the monsoons, which

cause severe erosion and reduce salinity (Ansell et al. 1972, McLusky et al. 1975, Ong

and Krishnan 1995). Following a tropical storm, the macrobenthos composition along

Telok Aling beach in Malaysia changed from being dominated by a gastropod to a

predominately polychaete and bivalve community (Ong and Krishnan 1995). Species

richness increased, whereas mean population density decreased after the storm. These

changes in community structure following severe erosion may occur due to defaunation

of the area, which allows more species to recolonize and occupy the habitat (Grassle and

Sanders 1973, Johnson 1974, Arbugov 1982, Ong and Krishnan 1995).

Barrier islands are extremely dynamic and undergo constant erosion and

accretion, yet these systems also provide important habitat for foraging shorebirds. The

family Scolopacidae comprises 40% of the shorebirds in the world, including Calidris

sandpipers, dowitchers (Limnodromus sp), godwits, and curlews, and approximately 80%

of these species use coastal habitat during winter or migration (Burger 1984). During

migration, most scolopacids travel considerable distances offshore and typically barrier

islands are the last land available before crossing oceans and the first habitat encountered

when returning (Burger 1984). Many other shorebirds, including Charadrius species and

Haematopodius, species also rely on coastal habitat during migration (Burger 1984).

Barrier island sediments consist primarily of sand, which is easily transported by

winds, oceanographic currents, and tides, resulting in unstable habitat (LaRoe 1976).

This sand may have originated from several sources including deposition by rivers, and

erosion of offshore sources by rising seas (Otvos 1981). Variation in sand availability

may create long-term and short-term instability along barrier island coastlines. Since the





35


rise in sea level during the Holocene, many offshore sand sources for barrier islands have

been drowned, which has resulted in erosion of many of these systems (Wilkinson 1975,

Morton 1979, Otvos 1981). In the late 1970's, 45% of the Texas coast was losing more

than 3.5 m of sand per year (Morton 1979). The eastern shore of Cape Fear, North

Carolina lost approximately 500 m of sand between 1849 and 1929 (Bird 1985), the coast

of Rhode Island lost an average 0.7 m per year from 1938 to 1975, and the western coast

of Florida near Sarasota lost an average 0.6 m per year between 1957 and 1973 (Banks

1975, Fisher and Simpson 1979, Bird 1985). Much of the sand transported off barrier

islands is deposited within the same barrier island system, resulting in accretion of a

nearby coast. Sand removed from the eastern shore of Cape Fear, North Carolina may

have been deposited along the southern shore, which gained up to 200 m of sediment

during the same time period that erosion occurred (Bird 1985). Although the coast of

Texas has experienced erosion, accretion has occurred along several barrier islands off

Louisiana (Bird 1985). Variability in sea level has altered sources of sand for many

barrier island systems, which has created extremely dynamic systems undergoing erosion

and accretion.

To determine how foraging shorebirds have responded to this dynamic

environment, the following goals were defined: assess the, 1. dynamics of Cape San Bias,

including wind, current, and tidal patterns, and changes in beach profiles, 2. changes in

shorebird prey availability, 3. abundance and distribution of shorebirds, and 4.

persistence and stability of the shorebird community.





36


Study Site

This study was conducted along five kilometers of beach on Cape San Bias,

Florida (latitude 290 40' 10" N and longitude 850 20' 30" W; see Fig. 2-1). Cape San

Bias represents the southern-most point of the St. Joseph Peninsula, which is part of a

barrier island chain extending along the northern Gulf of Mexico. This system was most

likely formed by offshore shoal aggradation after the stabilization of sea level

approximately 4,000 to 5,000 years ago (Swift 1975, Otvos 1981). The forces that helped

developed and continue to maintain this system also drive the dynamic pattern of

accretion and erosion that occurs along Cape San Bias (see Chapter 2). The eastern

beach of Cape San Bias undergoes accretion, whereas the western coast experiences

some of the greatest erosional rates in Florida. From June 1994 to September 1995, the

west beach lost approximately 10 m (Lamont et al. 1997). Cape San Bias is also an

important area for foraging shorebirds. This region supports a large number and wide

variety of shorebirds, including several threatened species. From 1994 to 1996, 26

shorebird species were observed along Cape San Bias (Lamont et al. 1997). Although

absolute numbers were less than observed along the primary migration route through

Texas (119. I/one kilometer survey along CSB 1994-1997; 269.9/one-kilometer survey

along Texas 1985) yearly species counts along Cape San Bias were comparable to counts

in Texas (Withers and Chapman 1993). In addition, Cape San Bias supports a significant

number of piping plovers (Charadrius melodus; federally threatened), which were the

fourth most common species observed from 1994 to 1996, and provides habitat for a

population of nesting snowy plovers (Charadrius alexandriunus; state-threatened;

Lamont et al. 1997).





37



Methods

Shorebird abundance and distribution

From May 1998 through September 2000, shorebird surveys were conducted

weekly during summer (May 15 through September 1) and monthly throughout the

remainder of the year. An observer walked along the landward edge of the beach from

the 0.0 mile-marker (mi) to the 2.9 mi, or in the opposite direction (see Fig. 2-3). Initial

survey direction was decided by a coin flip. All shorebirds observed on the beach and

along the shores of the lagoon were recorded. Birds were identified to species, and

behaviors, such as foraging, roosting, and bathing were noted. Morphologically similar

sandpiper species (white-rumped, western, least, semipalmated; Calidris spp.) were

grouped together and called peep, and observations of long-billed and short-billed

dowitcher (Limnodromus sp.) were combined and called dowitcher. All disturbances

observed during surveys were documented. Direction that birds flushed when

approached was noted so that birds traveling ahead of the observer were not recounted.

For analysis, the beach was divided into three 1.3-km sections: west (2.0 mi to 3.0

mi), cape (1.0 mi to 2.0 mi), and east (0.0 mi to 1.0 mi). Originally, birds observed along

the lagoon on the cape spit were included in counts for the cape beach; however in

December 1998, a separate category termed lagoon was created for birds documented in

this area. All birds observed within the high water mark along the entire shoreline of the

lagoon were counted and all data gathered. A one-way ANOVA and a Student's t-test or

a non-parametric Kruskal-Wallis one-way ANOVA and Mann-Whitney Sum Rank test in

SigmaStat 2.0 (Jandel Corporation 1995) were used to assess differences in shorebird

abundance and diversity within and between locations, and among seasons (Zar 1984).





38


Persistence and stability

From January 1994 to December 1997, shorebird censuses were conducted as part

of the Cape San Bias Ecological Study (Lamont et al. 1997). These surveys were

performed weekly along the lagoon shores (lagoon #1 and #2) and the gulf side of the

cape spit from mile marker 1.0 to mile marker 1.7 (Fig. 3-1).









2.9


2.7 0.3
2.6 0.4
2.5 0.5
2.4 ... 0.7 0.6


2. 1.0
0.8
2.2


9 10.9
2.0 lagoolagoon
1.9 1
1.8 1, 2
1.7 *.lagoon
1.6 ** :i ::'ll 1.3
1.5
1.4

Figure 3-1. The beach along Cape San Bias, Florida before Hurricanes Earl and
Georges destroyed lagoon #2 in September, 1998. Shorebird surveys were
conducted from mile-markers 1.0 to 1.7 (marked by the dotted line) from 1994
through 1997 and from 1.0 to 2.0 (marked by the dotted line and the dashed line) in
1998.





39


The area was surveyed on foot following the same general path that allowed full coverage

of both lagoons and the beach. From January 1998 through September 1998, surveys

continued on this general path along the shores of both lagoons; however an additional

portion of beach, from mile-marker 1.7 to mile-marker 2.0 was also included. Few birds

were recorded between mile-marker 1.7 and 2.0 therefore the increase in sampling

location was not considered a significant change in sampling regime. In September 1998,

Hurricanes Earl and Georges caused severe erosion along the cape spit and destroyed

lagoon #2 (Fig. 3-2). Therefore, from September 1998 to September 2000, surveys were

conducted along the shore of the lagoon (lagoon #1) and the beach along the cape spit

from mile-marker 1.0 to mile-marker 2.0 (see Fig. 3-1).

Changes in relative numbers of shorebirds over time (stability) and fluctuations in

species diversity over time (persistence) of the shorebird community were assessed for

1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, and 2000. Because two or more seasons were not sampled in

1996 and 1997, these years were not included in analyses. Stability and persistence were

compared among years and seasons, and within years for each season. Stability was

examined by comparing the abundance of shorebird species for paired years (1994 vs

1995, 1994 vs 1998, 1994 vs 1999, etc.). A Spearman's rank correlation was used to

compare the relationship between paired collections (Zar 1984). In addition, Morisita's

Index was used to test for similarity between any two paired-years (Wolda 1981). The

percentage change in species composition over time was calculated as the number of

species from year one that were also observed in year two, expressed as a percentage of

year one (Chapman and Chapman 1993). Because the greatest number of shorebird

species was often observed in sampling periods with the fewest number of surveys, it was









a. b.
















Figure 3-2. Cape San Bias, Florida before Hurricanes Opal, Earl, and Georges in 1993 (a) and after the
storms in 1999 (b). One of the lagoons was destroyed in Hurricane Georges, which reduced the amount
of habitat available to foraging shorebirds.





41

assumed that the chance of observing rare species was not affected by number of surveys.

Differences between years and seasons were assessed using a Student's t-test or a non-

parametric Mann-Whitney U (Zar 1984).

Invertebrate abundance and distribution

At four Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC)

benchmarks (107, 110, 121, 123; see Fig. 2-3), cores of the beach were removed

biweekly during summer and once a month throughout the remainder of the year to assess

shorebird prey availability. Core sampling occurred at random times throughout the day

and among various tidal cycles to decrease these influences on invertebrate availability.

A 10-cm diameter core was inserted to a depth of 30 cm along a transect placed

perpendicularly to the benchmark (Colwell and Landrum 1993, Yates et al. 1993).

Samples were collected every 2 m from the seaward edge to the landward boundary of

the intertidal zone. At each 2 m location, three cores were taken approximately 0.5 m

apart. Samples were placed in a sieve to separate sand from possible prey items.

Specimens collected within the cores were counted, identified to species, and placed in

formalin for two to three days before being transferred to isopropyl alcohol for long-term

storage. A one-way ANOVA and Student's t-test or a non-parametric Kruskal-Wallis

one-way ANOVA and Mann-Whitney Rank Sum test in SigmaStat 2.0 (Jandel

Corporation 1995) were used to assess differences in abundance between locations and

among seasons (Zar 1984).

Tides

Tidal patterns off the eastern and northern beaches of Cape San Bias were

recorded using a Hydrolab DataSonde 3 data logger. Off east beach, this equipment was





42


strapped to a steel screw-anchor that was placed in the seabed approximately 50 m

offshore. Off west beach, the water monitor was strapped to a wooden piling

approximately 75 m offshore. In each location, the monitor was programmed to record

water level, salinity, and temperature every 15 minutes. In 1998, the logger was placed

off west beach from June 21 to June 29, July 6 to July 19, and July 19 to August 16. In

1999, it recorded off west beach from June 18 to June 27. In 2000, the monitor was

placed off east beach from June 20 to June 23 and from August 6 to August 8. After

deployment, the monitor was retrieved and the information was transferred to an Excel

spreadsheet and plotted to display changes over time. Tidal heights gathered from the

water monitor were then compared to the historical heights published by the National

Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Tidal heights from Pensacola

Bay, Pensacola, Florida were retrieved from NOAA. Times were altered to adjust for the

approximately 400-km difference between Cape San Bias and Pensacola. Times for

falling tides were reduced by 51 minutes and for rising tides by 24 minutes. Tidal heights

were multiplied by the 1.1 correction factor suggested by NOAA to adjust for geographic

location. Tidal patterns from NOAA were graphed against those recorded by the water

monitor.

Winds

Wind patterns along Cape San Bias were assessed using data gathered by a

National Weather Service C-Man station located at mile-marker 2.2 on Cape San Bias.

Data available from the weather station included date, time, speed of wind gusts,

barometric and atmospheric pressure, dew point, wind direction, and wind speed. For





43


analysis, wind directions were divided into eight categories of 45 degrees each: north,

northeast, east, southeast, south, southwest, west, and northwest.

Currents

During the 2000 summer season, buoys were deployed weekly at the four FWCC

benchmarks to determine nearshore current patterns and velocities. Buoys consisted of

frozen grapefruit, which were both highly visible and did not burst on impact.

Grapefruits were launched from the water's edge to approximately 100 m offshore using

a modified slingshot attached to the rear of a four-wheel drive pickup truck. The buoys

were observed as long as possible by personnel who were onshore. Every 15 minutes,

time, distance, and wind speed and direction were recorded. In addition, launch and

retrieval locations were recorded with a GPS unit. Retrieval locations were only

available when buoys washed back to shore. To estimate the amount and direction of

sand transported by the longshore current (longshore drift), daily oceanographic

observations following those of Schneider and Weggel (1982) were conducted at one

benchmark on east beach (121) and one along west beach (110) from April through

August 2000. Data collected included wave period, direction, and type, breaker height,

wind speed, current speed and direction, foreshore slope, and width of the surf zone.

These data were then used to calculate longshore drift using the equation of Walton

(1980), which incorporates fluid density, acceleration of gravity, breaking wave height,

width of surf zone, mean longshore current velocity, distance of buoy used to determine

current velocity from shore, and a friction factor (0.1). The relationship between current

direction and wind direction was assessed using logistic regression in Minitab (Minitab,

Inc. 1996).





44


Topography

Topographical measurements were taken along the west and east beaches of Cape

San Bias biweekly during summer (May 15 to September 1) and once a month

throughout the remainder of the year. Transects originated at four FWCC benchmarks.

Heights of the beach were recorded using a laser transit and were documented every five

meters along the transect, as far into the Gulf of Mexico as possible. The relationship

between sand movement and wind direction was assessed using logistic regression in

Minitab (Minitab, Inc. 1996).

Results

Shorebirds

Abundance and distribution

Fifty-four shorebird surveys were conducted from June 1998 to September 2000.

During this period, 6,189 (114. I/survey) shorebirds of 21 species were recorded.

Seasonally, overall shorebird abundance was greatest in winter, whereas species diversity

was largest in spring (Table 3-1). Geographically, overall abundance and diversity were

greatest along the lagoon and lowest along west beach (Table 3-2).

Eighteen species were observed along the lagoon, 17 on cape beach, 13 along east

beach, and eight on west beach. Shorebird species diversity was lowest on west beach

with three species comprising 89.6% of shorebirds observed (Table 3-3). Seven species

dominated (91.5%) the assemblage along cape beach, seven on the lagoon (90.6%), and

seven on east beach (94.8%). Within each location, the greatest number of birds was









Table 3-1. Total seasonal shorebird abundance and diversity along 5-km of beach on Cape San Bias,
Florida, from June 1998 through August 2000. P-values represent results oft-tests (*) or Mann-Whitney
Rank Sum tests.

Mean Standard Spring Summer Fall Winter
Deviation p-value p-value p-value p-value


Abundance

Spring 157.75 97.07 / 0.018* 0.460 0.435

Summer 89.63 60.54 / 0.045* 0.724

Fall 132.00 50.32 / 0.174

Winter 160.80 249.74 /

Diversity
Spring 10.10 1.97 / 0.028 0.129* 0.003*

Summer 8.21 1.45 / 0.393 0.038

Fall 8.90 2.51 / 0.004*

Winter 5.63 1.89 /









Table 3-2. Shorebird abundance and diversity among each 1.2 km beach (West, Cape, East) and the Lagoon
on Cape San Bias, Florida, from June 1998 through August 2000. P-values represent results oft-tests (*) or
Mann-Whitney Rank Sum tests.


Mean Standard West Cape East Lagoon
Deviation p-value p-value p-value p-value

Abundance

West 7.14 6.77 / <0.001 <0.001 <0.001

Cape 27.24 21.19 / 0.033 0.425

East 40.76 35.22 / 0.471

Lagoon 54.97 83.03 /

Diversity
West 1.89 1.31 / <0.001 <0.001 <0.001

Cape 5.17 2.64 / 0.754 0.407*

East 5.15 2.16 / 0.531

Lagoon 5.67 3.13 /





47


Table 3-3. The shorebird species that represent 90% of the shorebird community along
each beach (West, Cape, East) and the Lagoon on Cape San Bias, Florida, from June 1998
to August 2000.
WEST CAPE EAST LAGOON
willet sanderling dunlin sanderling
sanderling willet peep willet
black-bellied plover peep sanderling ruddy turnstone
ruddy turnstone willet dunlin
semipalmated plover semipalmated plover black-bellied plover
black-bellied plover ruddy turnstone snowy plover
dunlin black-bellied plover piping plover


documented during fall, except along the lagoon where more birds were observed in

spring and winter than in any other season (Fig. 3-3, Table 3-4). Seasonality in species

diversity was observed along each beach, with the greatest number of species observed

along west beach during spring and fall, along the lagoon during spring, and along cape

and east beach during fall (Fig. 3-4, Table 3-5).

Seasonal variability in abundance was noted for several species, although not all

comparisons were statistically significant. Four species, (black-bellied plovers -

Pluvialis squatarola, ruddy turnstones Arneria interpres, piping plovers, and

sanderlings), exhibited the greatest numbers during the fall (Table 3-6). Three species

(dowitcher, peep, and semipalmated plovers Charadrius semipalmatus) exhibited

greatest abundance in spring (Table 3-7). Willets (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus) were

more abundant in summer and fall than in winter or spring, and numbers of dunlin

(Calidris alpina) were greatest in winter (Table 3-8).

Differences were also observed in abundance of individual species per beach.

Six species exhibited their greatest abundance along east beach (Table 3-9), whereas four






120
spring
100 summer
fall
80 Owinter
00







west cape east lagoon

Figure 3-3. Seasonal abundance of shorebirds along each 1.3-km stretch
of beach (west, cape, east) and the lagoon along Cape San Bias, Florida, 4
from June 1998 through August 2000.
16 -


















west cape east lagoon

Figure 3-4. Seasonal abundiversityance ofshorebirds along each 1.3-km stretch of
of beach (west, cape, east) and the lagoon along Cape San Bias, Florida, fom
Ju 14 9 su uuer
12 E fall
10 10 0 winter


6-
S4 -


0
west cape east lagoon

Figure 3-4. Seasonal diversity of shorebirds along each 1.3-km stretch of
beach (west, cape, east) and the lagoon along Cape San Blas, Florida, from
June 1998 through August 2000.





49




Table 3-4. Seasonal shorebird abundance along each 1.3-km stretch of beach (West,
Cape, East) and the Lagoon on Cape San Bias, Florida, from June 1998 through August
2000. P-values represent results oft-tests (*) or Mann-Whitney Rank Sum tests.


Mean Standard Spring Summer Fall Winter
Deviation p-value p-value p-value p-value
West

Spring 8.63 6.05 \0.115 0.224* 0.919*
Summer 4.37 5.68 \0.001 0.164

Fall 12.56 6.22 \0.198*

Winter 8.20 7.60

Cape

Spring 19.88 21.50 \0.665* 0.455* 0.194*

Summer 22.55 14.62 \ 0.784* 0.176*

Fall 26.17 5.81 \0.030

Winter 9.80 15.41

East

Spring 30.75 21.14 \0.961* 0.032* 0.281*

Summer 30.33 40.45 \0.002 0.361

Fall 70.10 67.60 \0.588

Winter 57.00 22.80

Lagoon

Spring 98.50 36.70 \0.037* 0.146* 0.043

Summer 41.05 25.74 \ 0.311* 0.055

Fall 22.80 177.56 \0.429

Winter 70.17 104.46





50



Table 3-5. Seasonal shorebird diversity along each 1.3-km stretch of beach
(West, Cape, East) and the Lagoon on Cape San Bias, Florida, from June 1998
through August 2000. P-values represent results oft-tests (*) or Mann-Whitney
Rank Sum tests.

Mean Standard Spring Summer Fall Winter
Deviation p-value p-value p-value p-value
West
Spring 2.63 1.92 / 0.110 0.900* 0.545*
Summer 1.39 1.10 / 0.006 0.329
Fall 2.55 0.69 / 0.733
Winter 2.00 1.41 /
Cape
Spring 4.00 1.60 / 0.250* 0.035 0.652*
Summer 5.23 2.85 / 0.187* 0.221*
Fall 6.55 2.54 / 0.030*
Winter 3.60 1.34 /
East
Spring 5.38 1.69 / 0.392* 0.081* 0.724
Summer 4.70 2.02 / 0.006 0.759
Fall 6.64 1.29 / 0.395
Winter 4.20 3.77 /
Lagoon
Spring 7.88 3.76 / 0.098* 0.103* 0.030*
Summer 5.70 2.72 / 0.422* 0.071*
Fall 4.67 2.73 / 0.365*
Winter 3.20 2.28 /





51




Table 3-6. Abundance of individual shorebird species per season along 5-km of
beach on Cape San Bias, Florida, from June 1998 through August 2000. P-values
represent the results oft-tests (*) or Mann-Whitney Rank Sum tests. These four
species exhibited their greatest abundance in fall. BBPL = black-bellied plover,
RUTU = ruddy turnstone, PIPL = piping plover, SAND = sanderling.


Mean Standard Spring Summer Fall Winter
Deviation p-value p-value p-value p-value
BBPL
Spring 4.88 4.42 / 0.837* 0.070* 0.962*
Summer 4.53 4.07 / 0.006 0.817*
Fall 10.40 7.00 / 0.146*
Winter 5.00 4.69 /
RUTU
Spring 10.38 6.14 / 0.192* 0.084* 0.171
Summer 7.10 6.20 / 0.001 0.322
Fall 17.19 9.05 / 0.138*
Winter 8.00 14.30 /
PIPL
Spring 5.13 8.64 / 0.720 0.107 0.622
Summer 2.70 3.83 / 0.001 0.587
Fall 8.27 4.86 / 0.009*
Winter 1.40 1.95 /
SAND
Spring 37.13 18.63 / 0.210 0.099 0.073*
Summer 27.13 26.86 / 0.014 0.741
Fall 54.23 27.37 / 0.015*
Winter 18.40 12.18 /





52





Table 3-7. Abundance of individual shorebird species per season along 5-km of
beach on Cape San Bias, Florida, from June 1998 through August 2000. P-values
represent results oft-tests(*) or Mann-Whitney Rank Sum tests. These three species
exhibited their greatest abundance in spring. DOWI = dowitcher, PEEP = sandpipers,
SEPL = semipalmated plover.

Mean Standard Spring Summer Fall Winter
Deviation p-value p-value p-value p-value

DOWI

Spring 2.00 2.20 / 0.229 0.104 0.071*

Summer 0.67 1.27 / 0.220 0.246

Fall 0.91 0.30 / 0.816

Winter 0.00 0.00 /

PEEP

Spring 23.13 17.17 / 0.055 0.031* 0.020*

Summer 11.13 13.39 / 0.670 0.036

Fall 8.27 10.28 / 0.100

Winter 1.60 3.58 /

SEPL

Spring 10.50 13.18 / 0.567 0.136 0.006*

Summer 5.47 5.50 / 0.508 0.035*

Fall 4.00 3.74 / 0.027

Winter 0.00 000 /





53



Table 3-8. Seasonal abundance of individual shorebird species along 5-km of
beach on Cape San Bias, Florida, from June 1998 through August 2000. P-values
represent results oft-tests (*) or Mann-Whitney Rank Sum tests. WILL = willet,
DUNL = dunlin



Mean Standard Spring Summer Fall Winter
Deviation p-value p-value p-value p-value


WILL


Spring 8.86 5.79 / 0.230 0.230 0.938


Summer 24.47 17.42 / 0.864* 0.059


Fall 23.46 14.05 /0.059*


Winter 9.20 9.09


DUNL


Spring 48.00 61.67 / <0.001 0.002 0.171


Summer 0.23 0.90 / 0.320 0.207


Fall 1.27 2.53 /0.567


Winter 105.80 233.79 /





54


Table 3-9. Abundance of individual shorebird species along each 1.3-km stretch of beach
(West, Cape, East) and the Lagoon along Cape San Bias, Florida, from June 1998 and
August 2000. P-values represent results of Mann-Whitney Rank Sum tests. These species
were most abundant along east beach. BBPL = black-bellied plover, PIPL= piping plover,
RUTU = ruddy turnstone, SAND = sanderling, SNPL= snowy plover, WILL = willet

mean standard West Cape East Lagoon
deviation p-value p-value p-value p-value
BBPL West 0.44 0.84 / 0.120 <0.001 <0.001
Cape 1.23 2.58 / 0.031 0.366
East 2.50 2.82 / 0.204
Lagoon 1.67 2.26 /
PIPL West 0.00 0.00 / 0.035 <0.001 0.006
Cape 0.41 1.52 / 0.005 0.406
East 2.19 3.01 / 0.074
Lagoon 1.62 4.20 /
RUTU West 0.20 0.68 / <0.001 <0.001 <0.001
Cape 2.90 4.00 / 0.904 0.223
East 4.48 7.31 / 0.229
Lagoon 2.41 3.54 /
SAND West 2.91 3.81 / <0.001 <0.001 0.398
Cape 7.50 7.72 / 0.020 0.063
East 16.00 17.34 / 0.004
Lagoon 8.23 15.25 /
SNPL West 0.00 0.00 / 0.006 <0.001 0.003
Cape 0.56 0.89 / <0.001 0.627
East 2.30 2.00 / <0.001
Lagoon 1.03 1.87 /
WILL West 2.93 3.23 / 0.105 <0.001 0.151
Cape 4.46 5.42 / 0.025 0.865
East 8.07 7.45 / 0.038
Lagoon 5.72 9.96 /





55




Table 3-10. Abundance of individual shorebird species along each 1.3-km stretch of
beach (West, Cape, East) and the lagoon along Cape San Bias, Florida, from 1998
through 2000. P-values represent the results of Mann-Whitney Rank Sum tests. These
four species were most abundant along the lagoon. DUNL = dunlin, PEEP =
sandpipers, SEPL = semipalmated plovers, WIPL = Wilson's plovers

Mean Standard West Cape East Lagoon
Deviation p-value p-value p-value p-value
DUNL West 0.17 1.23 / 0.496 0.410 0.018
Cape 1.05 4.67 / 0.922 0.104
East 3.07 18.41 / 0.106

Lagoon 18.31 68.59 /
PEEP West 0.11 0.82 / 0.050 0.014 <0.001
Cape 1.51 7.25 / 0.842 0.002
East 1.11 2.65 / <0.001

Lagoon 9.36 13.50 /
SEPL West 0.15 0.60 / 0.010 0.324 <0.001
Cape 1.08 2.74 / 0.097 0.077

East 0.50 1.41 / 0.001
Lagoon 4.10 7.69 /
WIPL West 0.00 0.00 / 0.058 0.245 <0.001
Cape 0.64 1.33 / 0.382 0.069
East 0.26 0.78 / 0.003
Lagoon 1.05 1.49 /





56


species were most abundant along the lagoon (Table 3-10). All species exhibited their

lowest abundance along west beach.

Persistence and stability

The degree of concordance was consistent among years from 1994 to 2000, with

100% of the correlations significant at p < 0.05 (Table 3-11). Correlations were all

positive and ranged from 0.79 to 0.91. Results of the rank correlations were supported by

results of the Morista's similarity index, which ranged from 0.55 to 0.92.

The persistence of shorebirds was relatively high among years (mean = 83.1%,

range = 66.7% to 100%; Table 3-12). Thus, on average only 17% of shorebird species

observed at time one on Cape San Bias were absent from this area at time two. Although

major hurricanes (Opal, Earl, Georges) affected this area in October 1995 and September

1998, persistence after these events was high (comparisons between 1998 and subsequent

years). Lowest persistence occurred between comparisons of 1994/1995 to 1998/1999



Table 3-11. Results of the Spearman Rank correlations and Morista's Index of similarity,
indicating a high degree of concordance among years in the shorebird community on Cape
San Bias, Florida.

Spearman Rank 1994 1995 1998 1999 2000
1994 \ 0.90 0.82 0.79 0.81
1995 \ 0.83 0.87 0.88
1998 \ 0.91 0.91
1999 \ 0.86
2000
Morista's Index 1994 1995 1998 1999 2000
1994 \ 0.92 0.80 0.67 0.55
1995 \ 0.75 0.70 0.57
1998 \ 0.86 0.71
1999 \ 0.82
2000\





57



Table 3-12. Persistence of the shorebird community along Cape San Bias, Florida,
defined as a percentage of the population observed in year one that is also observed in
year two.

1994 1995 1998 1999 2000
1994 \ 100.0 72.2 77.8 83.3
1995 \ 66.7 76.2 81.0
1998 \ 92.9 92.9
1999 \ 87.5
2000\


Invertebrate abundance and distribution

Samples for intertidal invertebrates were collected on 21 days between December

1998 and August 2000. Ten families were represented in the species collected: five from

the class Polychaeta representing marine worms, four from the class Malacostraca

containing the amphipods, mole crabs, and commensal crabs, and one from the class

Bivalvia including marine clams. From all samples, 7888 individuals were identified. Of

these, 49% (3858) were amphipods, 36% (2839) were bivalves, 11% (844) were worms,

4% (300) were mole crabs, and 0.06% (5) were commensal crabs.

In addition, samples were collected at five sites along the lagoon once in July

1999. Forty invertebrates were collected and of those 63% (25) were polychaete worms.

The remaining were adult or larval insects. Of the polychaete worms, 19 (75%) were

Scololepsis squamata, one was Glycera sp., and five were unidentified species. None of

the insects was identified to family.

The greatest amount of diversity per class was documented in the marine worms,

in which individuals from Lumbrineridae, Orbiniidae, Spionidae, Maldanidae, and

Nephytidae were recorded. The majority (89.1%) of worms in all seasons and across all

locations was Scololepsis squamata of the family Spionidae. The Orbiniidae represented





58

7.7% of all worms collected and the Lumbrinaridae comprised 2.9%. Two individuals

(0.24%) each of the Nephytidae and Maldanidae were documented.

The class Malacostraca was represented by four families, including Haustoriidea,

Albuneidae, Hippidae, and Pinnotheridae. All amphipods collected were from the

Haustoriidae family. The majority (83.4%) was of the genus Parahaustoris, the

remaining belonged to the genus Haustoris. Mole crabs belonged to two families. Most

(95.0%) were Emerita talpoida in the Hippidae family, and the remaining consisted of

Lepidopa websteri from the Albuneidae family. The few commensal crabs collected

belonged to the Pinnotheridae family and consisted entirely of the oyster pea crab

(Pinnotheres ostreum). The class Bivalvia was represented by only one family

(Donacidae), which contains the coquina clam (Donax variabilis).

Slightly more invertebrates were collected along east beach than west beach;

however the difference was not statistically significant (Table 3-13). There were

significantly more polychaete worms along east beach than west beach (T = 342.00, p <

0.01). This also allowed worms the greatest percentage of the assemblage along east

beach, where they represented 14.0% of the individuals collected, than along west beach,

where they comprised 6.7% of all individuals. More worm families were represented on

east beach where individuals from five families were collected, than on west

beach where individuals from only three families (Spionidae, Orbiniidae, and

Lumbrinaridae) were documented, although these comparisons were not statistically

significant. More coquina clams were also collected along east beach than west beach;

however, this species represented an equal proportion of the assemblage at each location.





59




Table 3-13. The total number of intertidal invertebrates collected
during 20 sampling events along West and East beaches of Cape
San Bias, Florida, from December 1998 through August 2000.

West East Total
Polychaete worms
Spionidae 207 545 752
Lumbrineridae 1 23 24
Orbinidae 23 41 64
Maldanidae 0 2 2
Nephytidae 0 2 2
Amphipods
Haustoridae 1995 1863 3858
Mole Crabs
Albunidae 8 7 15
Hippidae 131 154 285
Bivalve clams
Pinnotheridae 1087 1752 2839
TOTAL 3452 4389 7841



Although they were abundant along both beaches, amphipods represented a larger

percentage of the assemblage along west beach, representing 57.8% of all individuals

collected, than along east beach where they represented 42.5% of all individuals.

Diversity of amphipod families was similar between both locations. The abundance and

diversity of mole crabs and commensal crabs was similar between east and west beaches.

There was no significant seasonality in total number of invertebrates collected

along both beaches, however along west beach, the largest number was collected in

spring (Table 3-14). Along east beach, seasonality in abundance was only observed in

mole crabs (Fig. 3-5; Table 3-15), which were least abundant in spring than any other

season. Along west beach, significant differences in the abundance ofpolychaete worms

and coquina clams among seasons were observed, with greatest numbers of both recorded

in spring (Fig. 3-6; Table 3-16). Mole crabs were more abundant along west beach in fall

than in spring or summer.














Table 3-14. Average numbers of intertidal invertebrates per season from 20 samples collected along West
and East beaches of Cape San Bias, Florida, from December 1998 through August 2000.

West East
spring summer fall winter spring summer fall winter
worms 23.67 3.86 0.17 0.60 35.14 14.09 6.50 4.50
amphipods 82.17 49.32 28.00 49.80 54.29 44.18 45.00 60.25
mole crabs 1.17 3.05 8.00 3.40 0.71 5.23 4.50 3.50
clams 109.50 17.00 4.83 5.40 30.57 55.91 27.17 36.25

TOTAL 216.50 73.23 41.00 59.20 120.71 119.59 83.33 104.50





61


Tides

Tidal information was gathered off west beach for 54 days in 1998 and 9 days in

1999, and off east beach for five days in 2000. Tidal patterns collected from water

monitors off both beaches were nearly identical to those provided by the National

Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (Fig. 3-7). The diurnal tidal pattern

observed off Cape San Bias was synchronous between west and east beaches.

There was no difference in the total number of shorebirds observed during a rising

or falling tide throughout the entire study site (p > 0.05). Individual shorebird species

were observed equally during a rising or falling tide. Along west beach, east beach, and

the lagoon, the total number of shorebirds and the total number of each shorebird species

did not differ throughout the tidal cycle. Along cape beach, however, more shorebirds

were observed on a rising tide than on a falling tide, and this pattern was also observed in

sanderlings (t = -2.08, df= 35, p = 0.045) and ruddy turnstones (T = 413.5, p = 0.031).

There was no difference in the total number of invertebrates collected throughout the

study site on a rising or falling tide. Along east beach, all invertebrate species were as

equally abundant on a rising tide as on a falling tide. On west beach, however, mole

crabs were more abundant during a rising tide than on a falling tide(T = 34.5, p = 0.039).

All other invertebrate species were equally abundant throughout the tidal cycle along

west beach.

Winds

Wind direction was gathered every day from May 1998 through August 2000 (see

Table 2-2). During the fall and winter, the wind blew primarily from the north and east.






70

60 U spring
summer
50 fall

O winter
40

30

20





mole crab worm amphipod mollusk
Figure 3-5. Seasonal abundance of invertebrates along the east beach
of Cape San Bias, Florida from June 1998 through August 2000.



120

100 spring
summer
80 -- fall
O winter
60 -

40


20



mole crab worms amphipods mollusk
Figure 3-6. Seasonal abundance of invertebrates along the west beach
of Cape San Bias, Florida, from June 1998 through August 2000.





63




Table 3-15. Seasonal abundance of intertidal invertebrates along the east beach of
Cape San Bias, Florida, from December 1998 through August 2000. P-values represent
results oft-tests (*) or Mann-Whitney Rank Sum tests.


Mean Standard Spring Summer Fall Winter
Deviation p-value p-value p-value p-value
Mole crabs
Spring 0.71 0.76 \0.030 0.001* 0.042

Summer 5.23 6.15 \0.433 0.943

Fall 4.50 2.26 \ 0.520*

Winter 3.50 2.38

Worms

Spring 35.14 44.67 \0.445 0.138 0.215*

Summer 14.09 15.34 \0.255* 0.235*

Fall 6.50 7.23 \ 0.652*

Winter 4.50 5.45

Amphipods

Spring 54.29 49.34 \0.665 0.716* 0.851*

Summer 45.00 38.46 \0.801 0.521*

Fall 44.18 44.87 \ 0.595*

Winter 60.25 48.94

Molluscs

Spring 30.57 31.79 \0.799 0.828* 0.836*

Summer 55.91 86.35 \0.889 0.619

Fall 27.17 21.06 \0.610

Winter 36.25 58.54





64





Table 3-16. Seasonal abundance of invertebrates along the west beach of Cape San Bias,
Florida, from December 1998 through August 2000. P-values represent results oft-tests
(*) or Mann-Whitney Rank Sum tests.


Mean Standard Spring Summer Fall Winter
Deviation p-value p-value p-value p-value

Mole crabs

Spring 1.17 0.75 \0.207 0.041 0.429

Summer 3.05 3.30 \0.073 1.000

Fall 8.00 7.62 \0.247

Winter 3.40 4.39

Worms

Spring 23.67 35.64 \0.082 0.015 0.030

Summer 3.86 7.45 \0.152 0.511

Fall 0.17 0.41 \0.537

Winter 0.60 0.89

amphipods

Spring 82.17 66.70 \0.275* 0.113* 0.383*

Summer 49.32 63.28 \0.595 0.708

Fall 28.00 37.42 \0.429

Winter 49.80 45.53

Molluscs

Spring 109.50 157.95 \0.053 0.004 0.030

Summer 17.00 21.38 \0.038 0.289

Fall 4.83 5.12 \ 0.848*

Winter 5.40 4.22








- 0.6
July 7 July 19
0 0.4-- 1



-0.42






SNOAA

& -0.6

o c An ( ) in te s a f J 6 1 1
0 D 0 C 0 0 0C0 0 0) 0) 0 000 0



Time (HHMMS S)


Figure 3-7. Tidal patterns off Cape San Bias, Florida and those recorded by the National Oceanographic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the same area from July 6 19, 1998.





66


(N, NE, E), whereas during the spring and summer it blew mainly from the south and

west (S, SW, W)

Currents

Current speed and direction was observed on 13 days from April 2000 through

August 2000. Along east and west beach, there was a positive relationship between wind

and current direction (east z = -3.76, p < 0.001, west z = -2.34, p = 0.019; see Fig. 2-7).

Results of oceanographic observations also demonstrated this relationship. Observations

were collected for 57 days from April through August 2000. Along west beach, the

current traveled west on 21 (36.8%) days and east on 36 (63.2%) days. When the wind

blew primarily from the NE, E, SE or S, the current flow was primarily towards the west

(85.7%), and when it blew from the SW, W, NW or N, the current traveled east most

often (81%). Along east beach, the current traveled west on 14 (25.4%) days and east on

41 (74.6%) days. When the wind blew from the N, NE, E, or SE or from the NW, W,

SW, or S, the current flowed west (50%) as often as it traveled east (50%). However,

when the wind blew primarily from the NW, W, SW, or S, the current traveled east

(80.5%).

Topography

From September 1998 to August 2000, west beach lost 4.95 m of sand along the

entire profile (see Fig. 2-8). Individual points along the profile differed; the greatest loss

(-1.17 m) occurred 30 m from the benchmark whereas the first 15 m of the profile gained

0.16 m. During this period, east beach gained 3.78 m of sand along the entire profile (see

Fig. 2-9). The greatest gain (0.61 m) occurred 35 m from the benchmark, while the

greatest loss (-0.18 m) was documented 45 m from the benchmark. There was a





67


significant relationship between wind direction and sand movement. On both beaches,

accretion occurred more often when the wind blew from the east than when it blew from

the west, whereas erosion occurred more often during winds from the west than those

from the east (east z = -2.03, p = 0.042; west z = -2.50 p = 0.012; see Fig. 2-10). There

was no seasonal variation in sand movement.

Discussion

Cape San Bias is a dynamic system. Winds drive oceanographic currents that

transfer sand throughout the system (see Chapter 2), and although this results in an

extremely unstable substrate, Cape San Bias continues to support successful foraging by

shorebirds. Abundance and species diversity of shorebirds observed during this study

were similar to those recorded along Cape San Bias from 1994 to 1997 (Lamont et al.

1997). This constancy in numbers reflects the persistence and stability of this shorebird

community.

The slight decrease in abundance between 1994-1997 (119.1/one-kilometer

survey) and 1998-2000 (114.6/five-kilometer survey) and in correlation and persistence

values for 1998 and 1999 most likely reflect a loss of habitat due to Hurricanes Earl and

Georges in September 1998. These storms caused severe erosion on Cape San Bias that

removed sand from the cape spit and resulted in destruction of lagoon # 2. This may

have provided less space for foraging shorebirds thereby reducing the numbers of birds

using this area. When Hurricane Elena caused destruction along Dauphin Island,

Alabama in 1985, piping plovers moved to nearby Sand Island and continued to use that

location even after Dauphin Island was restored (Nicholls and Baldassarre 1990). Results

of Morista's Index support this idea. Results of this index decreased with time, with





68

1994 being most similar to 1995 and least similar to 2000. This trend was not observed,

however, in Spearman Rank Correlations. It has been suggested that Morista's Index is

sensitive to changes in abundance of common species (Wolda 1981). In 1994, 1995, and

1998, prior to destruction of lagoon #2 along Cape San Bias, dunlin represented a mean

29% of the shorebird community in this area. In 1999 and 2000, however, after

Hurricanes Earl and Georges, dunlin represented a mean 14% of the community. This

decrease in number of dunlin may have been caused by a loss of habitat and was most

likely reflected in the results of Morista's Index. The loss of lagoon #2 resulted in a

decrease in numbers of dunlin and was reflected in the overall abundance, stability, and

persistence of the shorebird community along Cape San Bias.

In most coastal systems, tidal patterns are often the environmental force that has

the greatest influence on shorebird distribution (Burger et al. 1977); however this aspect

of barrier island dynamics appeared to have little effect on invertebrate or shorebird

abundance during this study. This may be due to the small tidal range that occurs along

Cape San Bias. In many areas where a relationship between shorebird foraging and tidal

cycle has been observed, tidal patterns were typically semidiurnal with ranges between

high and low tide greater than one meter (Burger et al. 1977, Connors et al. 1981). Along

Cape San Bias, tidal patterns are diurnal and maximum tidal ranges are less than one

meter (Gorsline 1966). During this study, the difference between mean high tide and

mean low tide was 0.3 m. Perhaps the negligible difference between high and low tide

along Cape San Bias had little effect on invertebrate activity thereby reducing tidal

influence on shorebird distribution.





69

The only species influenced by tidal patterns during this study were sanderlings

and ruddy turnstones. The distribution of sanderlings is frequently and greatly tidal

dependent (Evans 1976, Burger et al. 1977, Connors et al. 1981). Sanderlings have

physical adaptations that permit successful exploitation of beach resources. Their short,

stout bill and lack of a hind toe may interfere with their use of other foraging habitats

such as mud flats or protected harbors, even if those sites have greater invertebrate

abundance (Connors et al. 1981). When invertebrate resources along the beach are high,

sanderlings are able to capitalize on available prey; however when the tide changes and

invertebrates become less accessible, sanderlings move to a more profitable habitat

(Burger et al. 1977, Connors et al. 1981). Because other species lacking the physical

characteristics of sanderlings, such as willets, black-bellied plovers, or dunlin, are not as

dependent on intertidal foraging habitat they may not be influenced by tidal patterns

(Connors et al. 1981).

The foraging strategies of ruddy turnstones may make them more susceptible to

tidal influence. These birds often forage by flipping over rocks and pecking within the

beach wrack (Colwell and Landrum 1993). Rising tides may bring insect larvae, crabs,

or bivalves into the wrack system thereby providing prey for ruddy turnstones, and when

tides fall, prey may be less available. When tides were falling, turnstones foraging along

the cape beach may have moved to the lagoon.

Although shorebirds foraging along east and west beach were not influenced by

tidal patterns, those foraging along the cape beach were affected. This may be due to the

proximity and accessibility of the lagoon to cape beach. Perhaps when tides change and

intertidal invertebrates become less active, shorebirds along the cape beach move to the





70

lagoon, which is unaffected by tides. On east and west beach however, because of the

slightly greater distance to the lagoon, it may be advantageous for birds to continue

foraging along the beach rather than move to the lagoon.

Although shorebird distribution was not greatly influenced by tidal patterns

during this study, it was affected by other aspects of barrier island dynamics particularly

wave energy and sand movement. During this study, more shorebirds were observed

along the accreting beach (east) than on the eroding beach (west). A slightly higher

number of invertebrates (56%) were collected along east beach than west beach, and the

invertebrate community was more diverse in this area than along west beach. In general,

within invertebrate communities, species density, diversity, and richness increase as

exposure to wave action decreases (Brown and McLachlan 1990, Dexter 1992). This was

observed along Cape San Bias during this study. Although similar numbers of

amphipods and mole crabs were located in each area, more polychaete worms and

bivalve clams were collected along east beach. Amphipods and mole crabs are

burrowing species with physical characteristics that permit foraging in rough water and

enable them to retain their place within the moving substrate (Croker et al. 1975, Leber

1982). Polychaete worms and coquina clams must extend foraging structures above the

sand surface to feed, which does not allow them to burrow deep within the sediment

(Leber 1982, Knott et al. 1983). The erosion that occurs along west beach does not create

greater diversity of the invertebrate community, like that observed along Telok Aling

beach, Malaysia after a tropical storm (Ong and Krishnan 1995). The erosion that occurs

along west beach is a constant force, whereas the habitat disruption that occurred in

Malaysia was a single event. Along Cape San Bias, the consistently rough waters and





71

offshore sand movement off west beach appeared to have limited the diversity of

invertebrate fauna able to survive in this area, whereas the calmer waters and onshore

sand movement along east beach permitted increased diversity.

Differences in the diversity of prey available to shorebirds along east and west

beach have influenced the diversity of shorebirds foraging in each location. Many of the

shorebird species absent from west beach but present on east beach (snowy plovers,

piping plovers, and peeps) are visual foragers. Amphipods and mole crabs, which were

abundant along west beach, do not extend reproductive or foraging structures above the

sand surface, which makes them more difficult to locate for visual foragers (Baker 1974,

Hockey et al. 1999). Therefore, the decrease in diversity of prey species may have

reduced the abundance and diversity of shorebird species using west beach.

In addition to greater prey diversity along east beach, there is also more habitat

and greater diversity in the habitat along this beach. Throughout this study the mean

distance from the dunes to the waterline along east beach was 83 m whereas along west

beach the mean was 28 m. The habitat along each profile also differs. East beach

contains a primary and secondary dune system, and a wide, flat beach face separated into

three regions: a shelly area, an area of soft loose sand, and a harder-packed, sloping tidal

region (Lamont et al. 1997). Along west beach there is little or no dune system.

Flatwoods and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) vegetation border the beach and the pines

(Pinus spp.) are often uprooted by erosion and felled onto the beach (Lamont et al. 1997).

Although the intertidal region is important to most shorebird species, additional habitat is

also necessary for some species. In high winds or low temperatures, visual foragers, such

as plovers (Charadrius spp.), may feed near the dunes on insects or seeds (Pienkowski





72

1981, Skagen and Oman 1996), or they may not feed at all but take refuge behind sandy

clumps of dune vegetation (Pienkowski 1981). The east beach of Cape San Bias provides

these additional habitats, which, along with increased invertebrate abundance, may result

in greater numbers of shorebirds in this region than along the eroding, west beach.

Seasonal peaks in shorebird abundance often relate to increases in abundance of

intertidal invertebrates; however this relationship was not observed during this study

(Withers and Chapman 1993). The greatest abundance of shorebirds along east and west

beach was observed in fall; however invertebrates were equally abundant throughout the

year on east beach, and along west beach the greatest number was collected in spring.

This increase in total abundance of invertebrates along west beach during spring reflects

changes in numbers of polychaete worms and coquina clams, which was not observed

along east beach and is most likely caused by alterations in reproductive timing. The

most abundant species of polychaete worm collected during this study was Scololepsis

squamata. Along a protected beach in Barbados, Richards (1970) reported four spawning

events for Scololepsis squamata with each event separated by two months. However, on

an exposed beach along the same island, Scololepsis squamata spawned only once

throughout the year. Calm waters off east beach may have allowed year round spawning

by Scololepsis squamata, whereas the rough waters off west beach may have limited

spawning of this species to spring.

Reproduction in coquina clams may have also been influenced by water

turbulence. Along Panama City Beach, Florida, in an area that exhibits accretion,

Saloman and Naughton (1978) found no variability in abundance of coquina throughout

the year, indicating these species spawn year-round (Tanner 1964). Along the Atlantic





73

coast, however, where wave energy is greater, it has been suggested that coquina clams

spawn only in winter (Knott et al. 1983, Ruppert and Fox 1988). Perhaps due to the

calmer waters off east beach, coquina clams were able to spawn year-round, whereas in

the rougher waters off west beach they were able to spawn only in winter. Therefore, the

rough waters off west beach may have limited spawning ofpolychaete worms and

coquina clams to only once per year, resulting in seasonal peaks in abundance, whereas

the calm waters off east permitted year-round spawning and consistent abundance.

Although numbers of worms and coquina clams along west beach increased in

spring, this did not correlate with an increase in shorebird abundance during this time.

Variations in prey abundance during fall and spring migration of shorebirds most likely

influenced this relationship. During times of food limitation, species will withdraw into

their exclusive niche or portion of the environment in which they exploit certain

resources more efficiently than other species (Baker and Baker 1973). Because there was

no increase in available resources during fall, only those shorebird species best adapted to

this habitat were able to utilize these resources during fall migration. The increase in

abundance of shorebirds during fall may have reflected an increase in the number of

common species, such as sanderlings, willets, and black-bellied plovers during this time.

These species are year-round inhabitants of this area and may be best suited for this

habitat and prey type. Large flocks of these species resulted in an increase in overall

abundance for this region.

Abundance of shorebirds in spring may have been limited also because of

competition among shorebirds due to an increase in species diversity during this season.

The additional species most likely stopped along Cape San Bias during spring migration





74

to take advantage of the prey increase that occurred along west beach, and may have used

different foraging areas in fall. It has been suggested that some shorebird species, such as

lesser-golden plovers (Pluvialis dominica) and white-rumped sandpipers (Calidris

fuscicollis) migrate in elliptical routes, traveling south via the Atlantic coast and north

through coastal Texas and the Plains states (Cooke 1910, Myers et al. 1990).

Competition with these additional species may have limited numbers of common species,

such as sanderlings, black-bellied plovers, and willets thereby reducing overall

abundance.

Although there were often large differences in abundance of invertebrates and

shorebirds among locations and seasons during this study, not all of these comparisons

were statistically significant. These non-significant results were most likely affected by

the large standard deviations associated with invertebrate and shorebird samples. This

amount of variation probably reflects the tendency of invertebrates and shorebirds to

clump within the habitat, and also the limitations of sampling these species. Many

invertebrate species, such as coquina clams and Corophium amphipods, are often found

in dense aggregations (Abbott 1974, Knott et al. 1983, Gourbault and Warwick 1994),

and in many studies the range between maximum and minimum numbers collected

during one sampling event is often large (Croker et al. 1975, Saloman and Naughton

1978, Wilson and Parker 1996). Shorebirds may also be observed in large aggregations,

especially during migration. During this study, dunlin were observed during 18 surveys

and four of those observations were of flocks containing at least 100 birds. Along Oso

Bay, Texas, large flocks of peep caused abnormally low diversity values during certain

survey periods (Withers and Chapman 1993) and within the Mad River Estuary,





75

California, 10 of 11 species observed exhibited non-random, clumped distributions

(Colwell and Landrum 1993).

The clumped distributions of invertebrates and shorebirds require large sample

sizes to reduce sampling variation. During this study, sampling for invertebrates and

shorebirds was limited to once per month throughout the winter. Although multiple

samples were collected along each transect to increase coverage, fewer sampling dates

increased chances that invertebrates clumps were missed. In addition, these monthly

surveys may have missed large flocks of birds that stopped along Cape San Blas for less

than one month. To reduce sampling variation and perhaps increase statistical

significance, sampling should occur at least once per week throughout the year.

In addition to limited sampling dates that may have affected variation in overall

abundance values, sampling methods may have also affected abundance estimates of

certain invertebrate species. Small numbers of mole crabs were recorded during this

study; however this was most likely the result of sampling strategy rather than a true

representation of the abundance of these species along Cape San Blas. Mole crabs are

rapid burrowers (Ruppert and Fox 1988), and although the size of sampling cores used in

this study was typical for sampling smaller, less active invertebrate species (Croker et al.

1975, Yates et al. 1993, Peterson et al. 2000), it was most likely not adequate for

collecting large numbers of mole crabs. In many studies where abundance of mole crabs

was investigated, box cores or shovels were used to dig large areas rapidly (Howard and

Dorjes 1972, Saloman and Naughton 1978, Leber 1982, Knott et al.1983). The goal of

this research was to assess changes in numbers and distribution of species over time, not





76

to determine abundance. Consistent sampling effort throughout the study allowed these

objectives to be met.

Along this barrier island, as with most habitats, spatial distribution, diversity, and

abundance of foraging shorebirds are determined by the distribution and diversity of

prey. In this dynamic environment, however spatial distribution of those prey is

influenced more by wave energy and sand movement than by tidal patterns. Temporally,

these dynamics affect reproductive timing of invertebrate species, which determines

seasonal changes in diversity and abundance of shorebirds. Although the habitat these

foraging shorebirds rely on is constantly moving, this community has remained stable.

Severe disturbances, such as tropical storms, that destroy habitat may cause fluctuations

in abundance and diversity. However, it appears shorebird communities inhabiting these

dynamic environments will respond and persist.













CHAPTER 4
THE INFLUENCE OF BARRIER ISLAND DYNAMICS ON NESTING
LOGGERHEAD TURTLES


Introduction

Female loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) nest every one to three years, and

from one to six times within each reproductive season (Miller 1997). It has been

suggested that they return to their natal beach to nest, and that once a female has returned

to the region of her birth she will tend to renest in close proximity on subsequent nesting

events (Carr and Hirth 1962, Carr and Carr 1972, Carr et al. 1974, Talbert et al. 1980,

Williams-Walls et al. 1983). Changes in the morphology of a nesting beach due to ocean

currents, winds, and tides may present challenges to turtles attempting to return to their

nesting beach. Effects of these forces on nest site selection by loggerhead turtles are

largely unknown.

During nesting migration, female turtles leave their foraging grounds, travel to

mating areas where reproduction occurs, and then move to nesting beaches (Limpus

1983, Parmenter 1983, Limpus et al. 1993, Miller 1997). After depositing their first nest

of the season, loggerhead turtles return to the water for 12-14 days before returning to

nest again (Miller 1997). When returning to nest, loggerhead turtles must first select a

beach, then emerge from the water, and finally place the clutch within that beach (Wood

and Bjorndal 2000). Beach characteristics such as temperature, salinity, slope, moisture,

width, and sand type have been shown to influence nest placement within the beach



77





78

(Johannes and Rimmer 1984, Garmestani et al. 2000, Wood and Bjorndal 2000). These

factors may allow turtles to expend less energy locating nesting sites that will provide the

greatest reproductive success. Along dynamic beaches, these factors are constantly

changing, which may reduce a turtle's ability to identify high-quality nesting sites.

In addition to a reduction in environmental cues, turtles nesting along dynamic

beaches must cope with oceanographic forces that create unstable habitat. Winds,

currents, waves, and tides may influence internesting movements and nest site selection.

Loggerhead turtles have been observed within the Kuroshio current off Japan during the

internesting period (Sakamoto et al. 1993) and in Barbados, hawksbill turtles

(Eretmochyles imbricata) nest more often along protected beaches than exposed beaches

(Horrocks and Scott 1991). In some areas on the east coast of Florida and along the

Australian coast, deposition of loggerhead turtle nests was found to occur more

frequently at high tide rather than low tide (Bustard 1973, Fritts and Hoffman 1982,

Frazer 1983a). Although turtles nesting along changing coasts may be less able to use

environmental cues to identify appropriate nesting sites, they may use oceanographic

cues to help reduce energy expenditure and increase reproductive success.

Barrier island beaches typically undergo severe erosion and accretion throughout

the year; however, these habitats are also often used by nesting loggerhead turtles. Along

the eastern coast of the United States, loggerhead turtles nest on several barrier islands,

including Topsail Island, North Carolina (Grant and Beasley 1998), Kiawah Island, South

Carolina (Talbert et al. 1980), Little Cumberland Island, Georgia (Frazer 1983b), and

Hutchinson Island, Florida (Williams-Walls et al. 1983). Barrier islands form almost half

the Gulf of Mexico shoreline, and loggerhead turtles commonly nest in this region





79


(LaRoe 1976, LeBuff 1990). The dynamic habitat along these barrier islands may

provide significant challenges for loggerhead turtles nesting in these areas.

Genetic studies have indicated loggerhead turtles nesting along the northern Gulf

of Mexico represent a unique stock (Encalada et al. 1998). The greatest density of

loggerhead turtle nesting in this region occurs along 5-km of beach owned by the US Air

Force on Cape San Blas, Florida. This barrier beach is located along the Florida

panhandle and represents the southernmost point of the St. Joseph Peninsula (see Fig. 2-

1). From 1993 to 1997 this area recorded 9.5 loggerhead turtle nests per kilometer

(Meylan et al. 1995, Lamont et al. 1997). No other species of sea turtle has been

documented nesting on this property.

Cape San Bias supports a significant group of nesting turtles; however, it is also

extremely dynamic (see Chapter 2). The eastern beach of Cape San Bias undergoes

accretion, whereas the western coast experiences some of the greatest erosional rates in

Florida. From June 1994 to September 1995, approximately 10 m of sediment was

eroded from west beach (Lamont et al. 1997). Although west beach is less stable than

east beach, sea turtles using Cape San Bias tend to nest along the eroding rather than the

accreting beach. From 1994 through 1997, at least 60% of nests deposited on Cape San

Bias were laid on west beach (Lamont et al. 1997). How the dynamics of this

environment influence nesting activity of loggerhead turtles is unknown.

To determine how nesting sea turtles have responded to this dynamic

environment, we defined the following goals: assess, 1. dynamics of Cape San Blas,

including wind, currents, and tidal patterns, and changes in beach profiles, 2. sea turtle

nesting patterns, and 3. success of nests deposited along Cape San Bias.





80

Methods

Sea turtle surveys and reproductive success

Daily morning surveys for sea turtle nests were conducted from May 15 through

September 15 in 1998, 1999, and 2000. Nests were observed for hatching, and nest

excavations to evaluate success were conducted from mid-July to October 31. In

addition, night surveys were conducted from approximately 2100 to 0600 every night

during the nesting season (May 15 to August 10). When a nesting turtle was located, she

was identified to species, her curved carapace length and width were measured, and her

location was recorded. To allow individual identification, Inconel flipper tags were

placed in both front flippers. Nests laid below mean high water were relocated landward

or to a more stable location. For analysis, sea turtle nests laid west of the cape spit

(between mile markers 1.4 an 2.9) were categorized as being laid on west beach and

those deposited east of the cape spit (between mile markers 0.0 and 1.4) were categorized

as being laid on east beach (see Fig. 2-3). For correlations with tidal height, time of

emergence or time first observed was used rather than time of egg deposition.

Success was defined as the number ofhatchlings that emerged from the nest

divided by the total number of eggs deposited in the nest and was termed hatchling

emergence success following Johnson et al. (1996). These calculations included nests

lost to erosion or depredation, but not those that were relocated, which involved 15 (26%)

nests in 1998, 10 (13%) in 1999, and 15 (24%) in 2000. The total number of eggs in the

nest was assessed during nest excavation and was determined by adding the number of

hatched eggs (all eggshells representing greater than 50% of a whole egg), unhatched

eggs, and pipped eggs. To calculate the number of hatchlings that emerged from the nest,





81


the number of dead hatchlings found within the nest was subtracted from the total number

of hatched eggs.

A Student's t-test in SigmaStat 2.0 (Jandel Corporation 1995) was used to test for

significant differences in the number of nests laid between locations (Zar 1984). A

Student's t-test or non-parametric Mann-Whitney test in SigmaStat 2.0 was used to test

for significant differences in hatchling emergence success and number of nests lost to

erosion between east and west beaches (Zar 1984).

Tides

Tidal patterns off the eastern and northern beaches of Cape San Bias were

recorded using a Hydrolab DataSonde 3 data logger. Off east beach, this equipment was

strapped to a steel screw-anchor that was placed in the seabed approximately 50 m

offshore. Off west beach, the water monitor was strapped to a wooden piling

approximately 75 m offshore. In each location, the monitor was programmed to record

water level, salinity, and temperature every 15 minutes. In 1998, the logger was placed

off west beach from June 21 to June 29, July 6 to July 19, and July 19 to August 16. In

1999, it recorded off west beach from June 18 to June 27. In 2000, the monitor was

placed off east beach from June 20 to June 23 and from August 6 to August 8. After

deployment, the monitor was retrieved and the information was transferred to an Excel

spreadsheet and plotted to display changes over time. Tidal heights gathered from the

water monitor were then compared to the historical heights published by the National

Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Tidal heights from Pensacola

Bay, Pensacola, Florida were retrieved from NOAA. Times were altered to adjust for the

approximately 400-km difference between Cape San Bias and Pensacola. Times for





82


falling tides were reduced by 51 minutes and for rising tides by 24 minutes. Tidal heights

were multiplied by the 1.1 correction factor suggested by NOAA to adjust for geographic

location. Tidal patterns from NOAA were graphed against those recorded by the water

monitor.

Winds

Wind patterns along Cape San Bias were assessed using data gathered by a

National Weather Service C-Man station located at mile-marker 2.2 on Cape San Bias.

Data available from the weather station included date, time, speed of wind gusts,

barometric and atmospheric pressure, dew point, wind direction, and wind speed. For

analysis, wind directions were divided into eight categories of 45 degrees each: north,

northeast, east, southeast, south, southwest, west, and northwest.

Currents

During the 2000 summer season, buoys were deployed weekly at the four FWCC

benchmarks to determine nearshore current patterns and velocities. Buoys consisted of

frozen grapefruit. Grapefruits were launched from the water's edge approximately 100 m

into the Gulf of Mexico using a modified slingshot attached to the rear of a four-wheel

drive pickup truck. The buoys were observed as long as possible by personnel who were

onshore. Every 15 minutes, time, distance, and wind speed and direction were recorded.

In addition, launch and retrieval locations were recorded with a GPS unit. Retrieval

locations were only available when buoys returned to shore. To estimate the amount and

direction of sand transported by the longshore current (longshore drift), daily

oceanographic observations following those of Schneider and Weggel (1982) were

conducted at one benchmark on east beach (121) and one along west beach (110) from





83

April through August 2000. Data collected included wave period, direction, and type,

breaker height, wind speed, current speed and direction, foreshore slope, and width of the

surf zone. These data were then used to calculate longshore drift using the equation of

Walton (1980), which incorporates fluid density, acceleration of gravity, breaking wave

height, width of surf zone, mean longshore current velocity, distance of buoy used to

determine current velocity from shore, and a friction factor (0.1). The relationship

between current direction and wind direction was assessed using logistic regression in

Minitab (Minitab, Inc. 1996). The relationship between current direction and sea turtle

nesting was determined using a Mann-Whitney Rank Sum test in SigmaStat (Jandel

Corp. 1992).

Topography

Topographical measurements were taken along the west and east beaches of Cape

San Bias biweekly during summer (May 15 to September 1) and once a month

throughout the remainder of the year. Transects originated at four Florida Fish and

Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) benchmarks. Heights of the beach were

recorded using a laser transit and were documented every five meters along the transect,

as far into the Gulf of Mexico as possible. The relationship between sand movement and

wind direction was assessed using logistic regression in Minitab (Minitab, Inc. 1996). A

linear trendline was fit to the shallowest and steepest profile for each year and each

benchmark in Microsoft Excel (Microsoft 2000 version 9.0.2720) to estimate slope. The

mean of the two slopes was calculated for an overall slope for each benchmark. The

mean slopes of benchmarks 107 and 110 were averaged to generate an overall mean for

west beach, and of benchmarks 121 and 123 for east beach.





84


Results

Sea turtle surveys and reproductive success

A mean of 65 sea turtle nests was laid on Cape San Bias in 1998, 1999, and 2000,

and of those, a mean of 78.1% were observed at oviposition (Table 4-1). Of the 111

turtles that were tagged, 27 (24.3%) nested more than once. Of those 27 turtles, 8 (7.2%)

nested three or more times. One turtle tagged on Cape San Bias on June 15, 1998 was

observed nesting on the eastern end of Gulf Islands National Seashore on Perdido Key,

Florida on July 17, 1998 (Mark Nicholas, Gulf Islands National Seashore, personal

communication). These nests were laid 32 days apart, with an inter-nesting distance of

approximately 250 km. Of the 153 nests laid, 94 (61.4%) were laid on west beach and 59

(38.6%) were laid on east beach. Along west beach, turtles nested almost equally on east

(E; 46.8%) and west (W; 53.1%) winds. On east beach, however, turtles nested more

frequently during W winds (80.7%) than E winds (19.3%; T = 187.5, p = 0.004; Fig. 4-1).

Of all nests deposited on Cape San Bias, hatchling emergence success, defined as

the total number of hatchlings that emerged from the nest, was 33.5% in 1998, 54.1% in

1999, and 41.5% in 2000. There was significantly greater success in 1999 than in 1998

(T = 3147.5, p = 0.003). In 1998, 55.4% of nests were lost to erosion before the

completion of incubation. This percentage declined to 16.3% in 1999 and 30.6% in 2000.

One nest was lost to raccoon depredation in each year.

In 1998, success was greater along east beach (39.8%) than west beach (23.3%).

In 1999 and 2000, however, success was greater along west beach (56.8% 1999; 36.5%

2000) than along east beach (36.9% 1999; 22.3% 2000). None of these comparisons

were statistically significant, however.





85





Table 4-1. Data on loggerhead turtles nesting along 5-km of beach on Cape
San Bias, Florida, during the summers of 1998, 1999, and 2000.

1998 1999 2000
total # nests laid 54 80 62

# nests observed being laid 30 69 56

# turtles tagged 24 45 42

# and % of turtles that nested more 4 15 8
than once (16.7%) (33.3%) (19.0%)

# turtles nested twice 3 11 5
# turtles nested three times 1 2 1
# turtles nested four times 0 2 2
avg. distance between successive nests 1.43 km 1.06 km 0.92 km

avg. distance nests were laid from 1.29 km 1.19 km 1.38 km
survey boundary




Tides

Tidal information was gathered off west beach for 54 days in 1998 and 9 days in

1999, and off east beach for five days in 2000. Tidal patterns collected from water

monitors off both beaches were nearly identical to those provided by the National

Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (see Fig. 3-7). The diurnal tidal pattern

observed off Cape San Bias was synchronous between west and east beaches.

Comparison of tidal patterns and timing of sea turtle nesting for all three years revealed

98% (152) of turtles nested on a rising tide and 2% (three) on a falling tide. No turtles

nested on a falling tide in 1998, one turtle did so in 1999, and two turtles nested while the

tide was falling in 2000 (Fig. 4-2).










a. b.










45 nests 10 nests 51 nests
47 nests a








Figure 4-1. The relationship between wind direction, current direction, and loggerhead turtle nesting along Cape San
Bias, Florida, from June 1998 through August 2000. Winds from the east (a) resulted in a westward flowing current and
few turtle nests along east beach. Winds from the west (b) caused easterly flowing currents and resulted in a larger
number of nests laid along east beach.





87


Winds

Wind direction was recorded every day from May 1998 through August 2000

(Table 2-2). During the fall and winter, the wind blew primarily from the north and east

(N, NE, E), whereas during the spring and summer it blew mainly from the south and

west (S, SW, W).

Currents

Current speed and direction was observed on 13 days from April 2000 through

August 2000. Along east and west beach, there was a positive relationship between wind

and current direction (east z = -3.76, p < 0.001, west z = -2.34, p = 0.019; see Fig. 2-7).

Results of oceanographic observations also demonstrated this relationship. Observations

were collected for 57 days from April through August 2000. Along west beach, the

current traveled west on 21 (36.8%) days and east on 36 (63.2%) days. When the current

flow was west (W), the wind blew primarily from the NE, E, SE or S (85.7%), and when

it traveled east it blew most often from the SW, W, NW or N (81%). Along east beach,

the current traveled west on 14 (25.4%) days and east on 41 (74.6%) days. When the

current flow was westerly, the wind blew from the N, NE, E, or SE as often (50%) as

when it blew from the NW, W, SW, or S (50%). However, when the current traveled

east, the wind blew primarily from the NW, W, SW, or S (80.5%).

Topography

From September 1998 to August 2000, west beach lost 4.95 m of sand along the

entire profile (see Fig. 2-8). Individual points along the profile differed; the greatest loss

(-1.17 m) occurred 30 meters from the benchmark whereas the first 15 m of the profile

gained 0.16 m. During this period, east beach gained 3.78 m of sand along the entire






















0.6

0.5 June 1
June 3 lyl July31
-0.41



0.2

0.1*
00
00
v v


-0.2

-0.3 -





Figure 4-2. The relationship between tidal patterns and turtle nesting from June 1 to August 1, 1999 along Cape San Bias,

Florida. Grey points represent turtles that nested on a rising tide, and black points represent those that nested on a falling tide.





89

profile (see Fig. 2-9). The greatest gain (0.61 m) occurred 35 m from the benchmark,

whereas the greatest loss (-0.18 m) was documented 45 m from the benchmark. The

mean slope of west beach was -0.135 whereas that along east beach was -0.060. There

was a significant relationship between wind direction and sand movement along east and

west beach. On both beaches, accretion occurred more often when the wind blew from

the east than when it blew from the west, whereas erosion occurred more often during

winds from the west than those from the east (east z = -2.03, p = 0.042; west z = -2.50 p =

0.012; see Fig. 2-10). There was no seasonal variation in sand movement.

Discussion

Environmental cues, such as slope, moisture, temperature, and salinity aid in nest

site selection; however, along dynamic coasts these characteristics are constantly

changing. In these areas, use of offshore characteristics in nest site selection, such as

water depth, tides, and currents may help reduce energy expenditure of nesting females

and increase reproductive success. Leatherback turtle (Dermochyles coriacea) nesting

colonies are typically associated with beaches that provide deep near-shore access, which

may enable turtles to attain high nesting ground with minimal effort (Hendrickson 1980,

Eckert 1987). Along Cape San Bias, turtles nested more often along the narrow, eroding

west beach than the wide, accreting east beach. This may be due in part to a steeper slope

and deeper waters off west beach, which help create a steep beach profile and enable a

nesting turtle to expend less energy while placing her nest in an area less likely to erode

or become inundated. Hatchling emergence success of nests along both beaches

supported this hypothesis. Although west beach eroded while east beach accreted,

success was slightly greater on west beach than along east beach.





90


These comparisons of hatchling emergence success between east and west beach

were not statistically significant, however. Sample sizes within each year were

dependent on the number of turtles that deposited nests within the study site, and no

intensification in sampling effort could increase that size. Because of low sample sizes,

variability within each year was great, which may have influenced statistical

comparisons.

Lack of statistical significance does not necessarily mean lack of biological

significance however, and these results appear to have biological significance (Anderson

et al. 2000). Greater hatchling emergence success along west beach was evident during

each year of the study, except 1998, in which two hurricanes (Hurricanes Earl and

Georges) caused extreme erosion along west beach. Under normal weather conditions,

the steep slope of west beach may serve enough of a barrier against high tides and erosion

along the beach face, however when tropical storms influence this area, the wide expanse

along east beach may provide better protection from extreme high tides, large waves, and

storm surges associated with tropical storms.

In addition to nesting on a steep beach profile, nesting on a high tide may also

reduce energy expenditure by nesting turtles. Nesting when tides are high may decrease

the distance required to reach an appropriate nesting site, which may reduce energy

expenditure and shorten the time a turtle is exposed to predators (Bustard 1979, Frazer

1983a). Turtles may only use this strategy in areas where tidal ranges are great (Frazer

1983a). Along Cape San Bias, tidal range is less than 0.3 m (see Chapter 3), but turtle

nesting is strongly correlated with tidal height. These results may reflect the influence of

wind on ocean currents in this area. Winds often blow waters farther up the beach during





91

rising tides, which may increase actual tidal amplitude but not be reflected in tidal data

recordings (Stauble and Warnke 1974). In areas where waters are wind-driven, turtles

may take advantage of the extra energy provided by winds to rising tides. If this were

occurring; however, a relationship between onshore/offshore winds and timing of turtle

nesting would be expected, but was not observed during this study. Turtles nested almost

exclusively on high tides regardless of wind direction. Most likely, the primary concern

for turtles nesting along dynamic coasts is reduction of energy expenditure therefore

turtles nesting in these areas do so at high tide regardless of tidal amplitude.

Currents may also be used to reduce energy expenditure by nesting turtles. In

Japan, loggerhead turtles are often located within the Kuroshio current during the

internesting period, which may allow turtles to drift passively and conserve energy for

their next nesting attempt (Naito et al. 1990, Sakamoto et al. 1993). Green turtles

(Chelonia mydas) off Ascension Island remained relatively stationary after entering the

sea following nesting and may rest or drift within local currents (Mortimer and Portier

1989). Conserving energy during internesting periods may allow for increased hatchling

emergence success. Along Cape San Bias, turtles may frequent deeper waters off west

beach during internesting periods. When winds blow from the west and generate easterly

flowing currents, they may be carried over the Cape San Bias shoals and into the vicinity

of east beach. However, when easterly winds create westward flowing currents, energy

must be expended for turtles to swim against the current and over the shoals to nest along

east beach. In this dynamic environment, preserving energy and nesting along a steeply

sloping beach may increase reproductive success of loggerhead turtles.





92


Turtles nesting along unstable beaches may scatter their nests on a water-to-dune

axis to maximize reproductive success (Mrosovsky 1983, Eckert 1987, Bjordal and

Bolten 1992, Wood and Bjorndal 2000). Turtles nesting in these regions may also scatter

nests along the beach throughout the system. Eckert (1987) suggested nest dispersal

should occur whenever nest survival is not strongly correlated with available

environmental information. Typically, loggerhead turtles exhibit lower site fidelity than

those species that nest along more stable beaches, such as green and hawksbill turtles

(Carr and Carr 1972, Talbert et al. 1980, Williams-Walls et al. 1983, Garundo-Andrade

1999). Perhaps this reduction in site fidelity permits turtles nesting along unpredictable

coasts to scatter nests throughout the entire nesting beach and reduce losses to erosion

and inundation. This strategy may also permit energy conservation by allowing turtles to

drift with the current to a nesting location rather than expend energy to swim back to a

specific nesting site. Along Cape San Bias, ifa turtle originally nested along east beach

during an easterly wind and attempted to renest during a westerly wind, she would have

to swim against the current to renest in that location. Although size of the study site

during this research was too small to accurately assess site fidelity of turtles nesting along

Cape San Bias, few within-season returns were observed. This indicates site fidelity in

this area may be weaker than that expressed by green and hawksbill turtles, and supports

the idea that loggerhead turtles nesting along dynamic coasts scatter nests throughout the

system to reduce nest loss to erosion and inundation.




Full Text
85
Table 4-1. Data on loggerhead turtles nesting along 5-km of beach on Cape
San Bias, Florida, during the summers of 1998, 1999, and 2000.
1998
1999
2000
total # nests laid
54
80
62
# nests observed being laid
30
69
56
# turtles tagged
24
45
42
# and % of turtles that nested more
4
15
8
than once
(16.7%)
(33.3%)
(19.0%)
# turtles nested twice
3
11
5
# turtles nested three times
1
2
1
# turtles nested four times
0
2
2
avg. distance between successive nests
1.43 km
1.06 km
0.92 km
avg. distance nests were laid from
survey boundary
1.29 km
1.19 km
1.38 km
Tides
Tidal information was gathered off west beach for 54 days in 1998 and 9 days in
1999, and off east beach for five days in 2000. Tidal patterns collected from water
monitors off both beaches were nearly identical to those provided by the National
Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (see Fig. 3-7). The diurnal tidal pattern
observed off Cape San Bias was synchronous between west and east beaches.
Comparison of tidal patterns and timing of sea turtle nesting for all three years revealed
98% (152) of turtles nested on a rising tide and 2% (three) on a falling tide. No turtles
nested on a falling tide in 1998, one turtle did so in 1999, and two turtles nested while the
tide was falling in 2000 (Fig. 4-2).


31
from the water column east of the shoals would limit the amount of sand available to the
west beach of Cape San Bias, which would contribute to erosion in this area. Some fine
grained sand may remain in suspension while traveling over the shoals, which would
permit some accretion on west beach during east winds.
Winds from the west, however, may create ocean currents that carry sediment
from the Apalachicola River and the relict deposit eastward, away from Cape San Bias.
Because no local source of sediment lies west of Cape San Bias, currents originating in
the west may not carry sediment to Cape San Bias and may cause erosion. Therefore, the
east beach of Cape San Bias accretes because it receives sediment during east winds and
is buffered from sediment-poor westward currents by the cape shoals. The west beach
erodes because sand transported during east winds is dropped east of the cape spit, and no
source of local sediment is available for transport during west winds.
Maintenance of the Cape San Bias system occurs through wind-driven currents
that carry sediment from an offshore deposit of relict sands. The submarine topography
of the region surrounding Cape San Bias has created this system, and the characteristics
of this topography promote mechanisms that drive the dynamics of this barrier island.


50
Table 3-5. Seasonal shorebird diversity along each 1.3-km stretch of beach
(West, Cape, East) and the Lagoon on Cape San Bias, Florida, from June 1998
through August 2000. P-values represent results of t-tests (*) or Mann-Whitney
Rank Sum tests.
Mean
Standard
Deviation
Spring
p-value
Summer
p-value
Fall
p-value
Winter
p-value
West
Spring
2.63
1.92
/
0.110
0.900*
0.545*
Summer
1.39
1.10
/
0.006
0.329
Fall
2.55
0.69
/
0.733
Winter
2.00
1.41
/
Cape
Spring
4.00
1.60
/
0.250*
0.035
0.652*
Summer
5.23
2.85
/
0.187*
0.221*
Fall
6.55
2.54
/
0.030*
Winter
3.60
1.34
/
East
Spring
5.38
1.69
/
0.392*
0.081*
0.724
Summer
4.70
2.02
/
0.006
0.759
Fall
6.64
1.29
/
0.395
Winter
4.20
3.77
/
Lagoon
Spring
7.88
3.76
/
0.098*
0.103*
0.030*
Summer
5.70
2.72
/
0.422*
0.071*
Fall
4.67
2.73
/
0.365*
Winter
3.20
2.28
/


17
Figure 2-4. Mean grain size (pm) of sand collected from benchmarks 121 (a) and 123
(b) along east beach, and 110 (c) and 107 (d) along west beach of Cape San Bias,
Florida.


24
Figure 2-10. Along Cape San Blas, Florida there is a relationship between wind
direction and sand movement. Winds from the east result in accretion (+), whereas
those from the west cause erosion (-).


30
The Apalachicola River may serve as a secondary source of sand for Cape San
Bias; however a large portion of sediment deposited in this region most likely originates
from another source. Analyses of sand samples collected offshore of Cape San Bias
indicated an area of relatively coarse (250 to 1000 um), relict, quartz sand located
between Cape San Bias and Cape St. George (Kofoed and Gorsline 1963). Many
researchers believe this area serves as the primary source of sand for this barrier island
system (Kofoed and Gorsline 1963, Stauble and Warnke 1974) and results of this study
support these beliefs. Grain size of sand collected along Cape San Bias during this study
(267 to 288 um) was similar to that observed within this deposit of relict sand (250 um).
In addition, because this potential sand source lies southeast of Cape San Bias, this
sediment is available for transport to the area in easterly winds (Kofoed and Gorsline
1963). Perhaps, easterly winds create westward flowing currents that place the finer
sediments of this relict deposition in suspension. The currents carry this sediment to
Cape San Bias, where it is dropped along the coast.
In addition to sand grain size, it is apparent from patterns of accretion and erosion
that the source of sand for Cape San Bias lies east of the region. Most likely, the
Apalachicola River provides a small portion of that sand, while a deposition of relict sand
offshore of Cape San Bias serves as the primary sand source. Perhaps, winds from the
east create ocean currents that carry coarse-grained sediment from the Apalachicola River
westward to Cape San Bias. In addition, these currents place the finer sediments of the
relict sand deposits in suspension and carry them westward. Much of this sediment may
be dropped once it reaches the shallow waters of the basin and Cape San Bias shoals,
which results in accretion along the east beach of Cape San Bias. This removal of sand


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
RESPONSE OF FORAGING SHOREBIRDS AND NESTING SEA TURTLES TO
BARRIER ISLAND DYNAMICS
By
Margaret M. Lamont
May 2002
Chairman: Raymond R. Carthy
Major Department: Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
Current, wind, and tidal patterns create dynamic barrier island systems. To assess
the response of foraging shorebirds and nesting sea turtles to these ever-changing
conditions, erosion, wind and current patterns were monitored, tidal fluctuations
recorded, shorebird surveys conducted, intertidal invertebrates collected, and nesting sea
turtles tagged along Cape San Bias, Florida, from April 1998 through August 2000.
The submarine topography off Cape San Bias influenced the wind patterns in this
region, which affected current direction and distribution of sediment. The shallow shelf
off the east beach resulted in accretion whereas the deeper waters off west beach resulted
in erosion. Erosion occurred more often during west winds than east winds, indicating
the source of sand for this region lies east of Cape San Bias. Although sand grain size
along Cape San Bias was similar to that collected from the mouth of the Apalachicola
River, sand for this barrier island system most likely originates from a relict deposit of
sediments lying southeast of this region.


39
The area was surveyed on foot following the same general path that allowed full coverage
of both lagoons and the beach. From January 1998 through September 1998, surveys
continued on this general path along the shores of both lagoons; however an additional
portion of beach, from mile-marker 1.7 to mile-marker 2.0 was also included. Few birds
were recorded between mile-marker 1.7 and 2.0 therefore the increase in sampling
location was not considered a significant change in sampling regime. In September 1998,
Hurricanes Earl and Georges caused severe erosion along the cape spit and destroyed
lagoon #2 (Fig. 3-2). Therefore, from September 1998 to September 2000, surveys were
conducted along the shore of the lagoon (lagoon #1) and the beach along the cape spit
from mile-marker 1.0 to mile-marker 2.0 (see Fig. 3-1).
Changes in relative numbers of shorebirds over time (stability) and fluctuations in
species diversity over time (persistence) of the shorebird community were assessed for
1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, and 2000. Because two or more seasons were not sampled in
1996 and 1997, these years were not included in analyses. Stability and persistence were
compared among years and seasons, and within years for each season. Stability was
examined by comparing the abundance of shorebird species for paired years (1994 vs
1995, 1994 vs 1998, 1994 vs 1999, etc.). A Spearmans rank correlation was used to
compare the relationship between paired collections (Zar 1984). In addition, Morisitas
Index was used to test for similarity between any two paired-years (Wolda 1981). The
percentage change in species composition over time was calculated as the number of
species from year one that were also observed in year two, expressed as a percentage of
year one (Chapman and Chapman 1993). Because the greatest number of shorebird
species was often observed in sampling periods with the fewest number of surveys, it was


Table 2-3. Percentage of the time the wind blew from one of eight directions (N = north, NE = northeast, E = east,
SE = southeast, S = south, SW = southwest, W = west, NW = northwest) per season from May 1998 through August
2000 along Cape Sna Bias, Florida.
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
N
17
17
13
12
8
6
6
8
15
22
23
18
NE
16
12
9
7
7
13
9
13
29
33
27
24
E
29
18
16
7
6
8
7
10
18
18
16
24
SE
12
13
16
18
17
13
10
8
10
8
10
15
S
5
9
10
13
12
13
11
13
5
3
6
3
SW
3
9
11
15
25
20
21
18
6
2
2
1
w
7
11
12
16
17
20
25
21
8
5
4
4
NW
11
11
13
11
8
7
11
8
8
8
12
11
to
to


80
Methods
Sea turtle surveys and reproductive success
Daily morning surveys for sea turtle nests were conducted from May 15 through
September 15 in 1998, 1999, and 2000. Nests were observed for hatching, and nest
excavations to evaluate success were conducted from mid-July to October 31. In
addition, night surveys were conducted from approximately 2100 to 0600 every night
during the nesting season (May 15 to August 10). When a nesting turtle was located, she
was identified to species, her curved carapace length and width were measured, and her
location was recorded. To allow individual identification, Inconel flipper tags were
placed in both front flippers. Nests laid below mean high water were relocated landward
or to a more stable location. For analysis, sea turtle nests laid west of the cape spit
(between mile markers 1.4 an 2.9) were categorized as being laid on west beach and
those deposited east of the cape spit (between mile markers 0.0 and 1.4) were categorized
as being laid on east beach (see Fig. 2-3). For correlations with tidal height, time of
emergence or time first observed was used rather than time of egg deposition.
Success was defined as the number of hatchlings that emerged from the nest
divided by the total number of eggs deposited in the nest and was termed hatchling
emergence success following Johnson et al. (1996). These calculations included nests
lost to erosion or depredation, but not those that were relocated, which involved 15 (26%)
nests in 1998, 10 (13%) in 1999, and 15 (24%) in 2000. The total number of eggs in the
nest was assessed during nest excavation and was determined by adding the number of
hatched eggs (all eggshells representing greater than 50% of a whole egg), unhatched
eggs, and pipped eggs. To calculate the number of hatchlings that emerged from the nest,


47
Table 3-3. The shorebird species that represent 90% of the shorebird community along
each beach (West, Cape, East) and the Lagoon on Cape San Bias, Florida, from June 1998
to August 2000.
WEST
CAPE
EAST
LAGOON
willet
sanderling
dunlin
sanderling
sanderling
willet
peep
willet
black-bellied plover
peep
sanderling
ruddy turnstone
ruddy turnstone
willet
dunlin
semipalmated plover
semipalmated plover
black-bellied plover
black-bellied plover
ruddy turnstone
snowy plover
dunlin
black-bellied plover
piping plover
documented during fall, except along the lagoon where more birds were observed in
spring and winter than in any other season (Fig. 3-3, Table 3-4). Seasonality in species
diversity was observed along each beach, with the greatest number of species observed
along west beach during spring and fall, along the lagoon during spring, and along cape
and east beach during fall (Fig. 3-4, Table 3-5).
Seasonal variability in abundance was noted for several species, although not all
comparisons were statistically significant. Four species, (black-bellied plovers -
Pluvialis squatarola, ruddy turnstones Arneria interpres, piping plovers, and
sanderlings), exhibited the greatest numbers during the fall (Table 3-6). Three species
(dowitcher, peep, and semipalmated plovers Charadrius semipalmatus) exhibited
greatest abundance in spring (Table 3-7). Willets (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus) were
more abundant in summer and fall than in winter or spring, and numbers of dunlin
(Calidhs alpina) were greatest in winter (Table 3-8).
Differences were also observed in abundance of individual species per beach.
Six species exhibited their greatest abundance along east beach (Table 3-9), whereas four


53
Table 3-8. Seasonal abundance of individual shorebird species along 5-km of
beach on Cape San Bias, Florida, from June 1998 through August 2000. P-values
represent results of t-tests (*) or Mann-Whitney Rank Sum tests. WILL = willet,
DUNL = dunlin
Mean
Standard
Deviation
Spring
p-value
Summer
p-value
Fall
p-value
Winter
p-value
WILL
Spring
8.86
5.79
/
0.230
0.230
0.938
Summer
24.47
17.42
/
0.864*
0.059
Fall
23.46
14.05
/
0.059*
Winter
9.20
9.09
/
DUNL
Spring
48.00
61.67
/
<0.001
0.002
0.171
Summer
0.23
0.90
/
0.320
0.207
Fall
1.27
2.53
/
0.567
Winter
105.80
233.79
/


CHAPTER 2
WINDS, CURRENTS, AND SAND MOVEMENT ALONG CAPE SAN BLAS,
FLORIDA
Introduction
Formation and maintenance of barrier islands require abundant sand supplies.
Stabilization of sea level in the past 4,000 to 5,000 years has eliminated many of the
sources that have provided sand to barrier islands, and the remaining sources, such as
river effluents or exposed cliffs, are often local. Distribution of this sand will influence
patterns of erosion and accretion on nearby barrier islands, thereby affecting the
morphology and habitat of the barrier island system. Movement of sand within and
among barrier island systems is most often influenced by the wind patterns, current
patterns, and submarine geology of the region, and variations in these factors may
determine the stability of the system.
Winds influence sand movement through airborne transportation and creation of
ocean currents and waves. Fine-grained sand that is not stabilized by vegetation may be
picked up by wind currents and transported, which assists in barrier island development
and maintenance. During barrier island development, an offshore bar may form due to an
oversupply of sand and the action of waves and tides, and further development of this bar
into a barrier island may occur through deposition of aeolian sands (Stanley and Swift
1976). Winds may also assist in maintenance of barrier island systems by depositing
sand on beach ridges to help create and sustain dunes (King 1959, Johnson and Barbour
1990).
6



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AGREEMENT_INFO ACCOUNT UF PROJECT UFDC
FILES


RESPONSE OF FORAGING SHOREBIRDS AND NESTING SEA TURTLES TO
BARRER ISLAND DYNAMICS
By
MARGARET M. LAMONT
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
2002

Copyright 2002
by
Margaret M. Lamont

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The completion of this research would not have been possible without the
cooperation and support of many agencies and individuals. Eglin Air Force Base (EAFB)
principally funded this research and provided invaluable logistical support and
equipment. The US Fish and Wildlife Service, Panama City office, also provided
funding and use of a sand shaker. Additional funding was received from the Florida
Ornithological Society.
I am extremely grateful for the support from my committee: Franklin Percival,
Karen Bjomdal, Bob Dean, and my committee chair, Ray Carthy. Their unique
perspectives and constructive advice were invaluable.
I also received much support from personnel in the Natural Resources Division of
EAFB, including Rick McWhite, Dennis Teague, Bruce Hagedom, and Bob Miller, and I
thank them for their time, energy, and interest. I am especially appreciative of the
constant professional and personal support received from Carl Petrick. It was a pleasure
working with him.
I thank Dr. Kim Withers at Texas A&M, Corpus Christi, for her advice on
invertebrate sampling, and Dr. Frank Maturo in the Zoology Department at UF for his
assistance with invertebrate identification. Several statisticians in the IF AS Statistics
Help Program at UF were extremely generous with their time and patience, and I thank
them for their help.
iii

Personnel at BAE Industries on Cape San Bias went far beyond what was
required of them to provide assistance to me during my research, and I am extremely
appreciative of their efforts. I thank Don Lawley, Bob Whitfield, and Judy Watts for
making my research station comfortable, safe, and accessible. Mark Collier and Carl Fox
fixed refrigerators, built ATV sheds, put up signs, carried heavy objects, and helped with
the design and construction of many original and unique pieces of sampling equipment,
but most importantly they listened, kept me laughing, and provided friendship that I will
always value.
I am indebted to the efforts of several technicians, interns, and volunteers who not
only assisted with data collection, but demonstrated patience, humor, and insight
throughout this project. I thank Leslie Parris, Wendy Robinson, Ryan Sarsfield, Greg
Gamer, Matt Chatfield, Kim Miller and Robin Abernethy. I am especially grateful to
Erin McMichael, who has provided support in every way throughout this research.
The support and efforts of personnel in the Coop Unit, especially Debra Hatfield
and Barbara Fesler, made conducting remote field work a little easier. I also thank
Monica Lindberg, Laura Hayes, Caprice McRae, and Polly Falcon in the Department of
Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida.
My friends, especially Steve Johnson, Dale Johnson, Julie Heath, Michelle
Palmer, Erin McMichael, and my family (Priscilla, David, Sally, Susan, Peter, Sam,
Rachel, Maggie, Eli, and Hannah) were patient, understanding, and loving throughout
this experience, and I could not have accomplished my goals without them.
IV

TABLE OF CONTENTS
page
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS iii
ABSTRACT vii
CHAPTERS
1 INTRODUCTION 1
2 WINDS, CURRENTS, AND SAND MOVEMENT ALONG CAPE SAN BLAS,
FLORIDA 6
Introduction 6
Study Site 10
Methods 13
Results 15
Discussion 25
3 THE INFLUENCE OF BARRIER ISLAND DYNAMICS ON THE ABUNDANCE
AND DISTRIBUTION OF INTERTIDAL INVERTEBRATES AND SHOREBIRDS . 32
Introduction 32
Study Site 36
Methods 37
Results 44
Discussion 67
4 THE INFLUENCE OF BARRIER ISLAND DYNAMICS ON NESTING
LOGGERHEAD TURTLES 77
Introduction 77
Methods 80
Results 84
Discussion 89
v

6 CONCLUSIONS 93
Summary 93
Management Recommendations 96
LIST OF REFERENCES 102
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 112
vi

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
RESPONSE OF FORAGING SHOREBIRDS AND NESTING SEA TURTLES TO
BARRIER ISLAND DYNAMICS
By
Margaret M. Lamont
May 2002
Chairman: Raymond R. Carthy
Major Department: Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
Current, wind, and tidal patterns create dynamic barrier island systems. To assess
the response of foraging shorebirds and nesting sea turtles to these ever-changing
conditions, erosion, wind and current patterns were monitored, tidal fluctuations
recorded, shorebird surveys conducted, intertidal invertebrates collected, and nesting sea
turtles tagged along Cape San Bias, Florida, from April 1998 through August 2000.
The submarine topography off Cape San Bias influenced the wind patterns in this
region, which affected current direction and distribution of sediment. The shallow shelf
off the east beach resulted in accretion whereas the deeper waters off west beach resulted
in erosion. Erosion occurred more often during west winds than east winds, indicating
the source of sand for this region lies east of Cape San Bias. Although sand grain size
along Cape San Bias was similar to that collected from the mouth of the Apalachicola
River, sand for this barrier island system most likely originates from a relict deposit of
sediments lying southeast of this region.

In this dynamic environment spatial distribution of prey of shorebirds is
influenced by wave energy and sand movement rather than by tidal patterns. Temporally,
these dynamics affect reproductive timing of invertebrate species, which determines
seasonal changes in diversity and abundance of shorebirds. Although the habitat is
constantly moving, this shorebird community has remained stable. Severe disturbances,
such as tropical storms, that destroy habitat may cause fluctuations in shorebird
abundance and diversity.
Along Cape San Bias, turtles nested more often along the eroding west beach than
the accreting east beach. This may be due in part to a steeper slope and deeper waters off
west beach, which enable a nesting turtle to expend less energy while placing her nest
higher on the beach. The number of hatchlings that emerged did not differ statistically
between west and east beach, however there is most likely a biologically significant
difference in success between the two locations. More turtles nested along east beach
during a west wind, and nearly all turtles (98%) nested during a rising tide, which
indicates turtles may also use currents and tides to reduce energy expenditure during
nesting.

CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
Barrier island habitat produces both large-scale and small-scale variability. These
systems are influenced by daily tidal fluctuations, seasonal changes in wind patterns,
yearly storms, and long-term variations in sea level. Subtle changes in bathymetry and
geology can produce washover fans, ephemeral pools, and areas of erosion that create
small-scale variability within the system (Otvos 1981, Ross and Doherty 1994).
Variability in erosion rates has occurred on barrier islands along the Texas coast, with
only 55% of the coast eroding from 1930 to 1955, and 80% of the coast eroding from
1955 to 1975 (Morton 1979). Along the coast of west Florida, the position of inlets has
had a strong effect on local beach variability (Gorsline 1966), and on barrier islands
throughout the world formation of tidal deltas is dependent on wave energy and tidal
range (Hayes 1979).
Although barrier island habitat is extremely variable, many species rely on it for
survival. This habitat serves as nesting grounds for seabirds (Visser and Peterson 1994),
and as resting and foraging areas for many species of neotropical migrants (Kuenzi et al.
1991). It provides protection for beach mice and cotton rats (Johnson and Barbour 1990),
and supplies prey for mammals such as bobcats, coyote, and raccoons (Neuhauser 1976,
Johnson and Barbour 1990, Lamont et al. 1997). In addition, the thousands of
invertebrate species that inhabit the intertidal zone of barrier island beaches allow
shorebirds to forage successfully in these regions, and the sandy beaches provide nesting
habitat for sea turtles.
1

2
Prey for many shorebirds inhabit either the substrate or water column within the
intertidal zone; therefore longshore currents and shifting sands may influence the ability
of this prey to survive within extremely dynamic beaches (Croker et al. 1975, Knott et al.
1983, Skagen and Oman 1996). Invertebrate activity and availability are significantly
influenced by habitat variability, and because of the relationship between invertebrate and
shorebird abundance and distribution, this variability also affects foraging shorebirds
(Evans et al. 1976, Connors et al. 1981, Grant 1984). Sand movement along coasts may
also alter the size of foraging habitat available to shorebirds, thereby influencing
shorebird abundance and distribution (Goss-Custard and Yates 1992). Shorebirds
foraging along dynamic beaches must be able to respond to the constant changes in the
environment that influence their prey and alter their foraging habitat.
Sea turtles also depend on barrier islands for survival. Although these animals
spend the majority of their life at sea, their time spent onshore is critical. Adult females
leave the water to deposit eggs in a subterranean nest, from which hatchling turtles
emerge to crawl across the beach and enter the sea (Miller 1997). Identification of
appropriate nesting habitat may rely on environmental cues along the beach, such as
temperature, slope, salinity, and moisture (Johannes and Rimmer 1984, Garmestani et al.
2000, Wood and Bjorndal 2000). These cues may help turtles reduce energy expenditure
while increasing reproductive success; however, along barrier islands, these beach
characteristics are constantly changing. Turtles nesting along dynamic beaches may,
therefore, depend on oceanographic factors, such as currents, tides, and submarine
topography to aid in energy conservation and nest site selection (Hendrickson 1980,
Frazer 1983b, Mortimer and Portier 1989, Naito et al. 1990).

3
The instability of barrier island habitat is not the only challenge facing shorebirds
and sea turtles attempting to forage and nest in this environment. Barrier islands have
also become popular areas for human recreation (Johnson and Barbour 1990).
Development of coastal areas has destroyed much of the habitat used by these species,
and human activities along the remaining undeveloped beaches create disturbances
(Johnson and Barbour 1990). Much of the undeveloped habitat along barrier islands is
protected as refuges or parks, as private property, or as military lands.
Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) is one of the largest military installations in the
United States, encompassing approximately 250,000 hectares in Northwest Florida. The
majority of this property consists of longleaf pine forests, and Eglin AFB manages this
habitat through prescribed burns and environmental education. In addition to the main
reservation, Eglin AFB manages approximately 250 hectares of barrier island habitat
along Cape San Bias, (latitude 29° 40’ 10” N and longitude 85° 20’ 30” W) located about
200 km southeast of the main reservation. The habitats on Cape San Bias include pine
flatwoods, rosemary scrub, wetlands, and approximately 5-km of beach (Lamont et al.
1997). This barrier island habitat requires different management strategies from those
habitats located on the main reservation, but due to its distance from the main reservation,
biologists at Eglin AFB were unable to conduct an inventory that would provide data
necessary for proper management of this property. Therefore, in 1994, Eglin AFB
contracted the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Florida
to conduct an inventory of the natural resources located along Cape San Bias.
Results of this three-year study indicated that although Cape San Bias is
extremely dynamic it supports an abundant and diverse community of shorebirds and a

4
significant nesting group of loggerhead turtles (Lamont et al. 1997). The eastern coast of
Cape San Bias experienced accretion, gaining approximately 6 m along the entire profile
from June 1994 through September 1995, while the western beach lost nearly 10 m along
the entire profile during the same period. The most dynamic area was the cape spit,
which lost 23 m of sand during one three-week period from June to July 1994. Although
this coast was experiencing significant amounts of accretion and erosion, nearly 8,000
shorebirds of 26 species were recorded from April 1994 to April 1996, and a mean of 46
sea turtle nests were laid per season (May 19 through August 18). The influence of this
dynamic system on the community structure and life-history strategies of these species
was unknown.
To better understand how foraging shorebirds and nesting sea turtles respond to
barrier island dynamics along Cape San Bias, detailed information on the forces that have
created and maintained this dynamic system was necessary (Chapter 2). The constant
changes in beach morphology that occur due to these forces may influence the shorebird
community along Cape San Bias by affecting the abundance and distribution of their
prey. Assessment of invertebrate and shorebird abundance and distribution allowed
elucidation of this relationship (Chapter 3). An ever-changing beach may also influence
sea turtles attempting to nest; therefore the distribution and timing of loggerhead turtle
nesting, and hatchling emergence success of nests deposited on Cape San Bias were
investigated (Chapter 4). Finally, a synthesis of the relationship among beach dynamics,
shorebird community structure, and loggerhead turtle nesting distribution is discussed in
a system-wide context (Chapter 5).

5
To better understand the relationships between barrier island dynamics, foraging
shorebirds, and nesting sea turtles, the following objectives were defined:
1) examine the forces influencing the dynamics of this barrier island,
2) provide more detailed information on the patterns of sand movement within
this barrier island system,
3) assess influences of sand movement on the structure of the shorebird
community along Cape San Bias,
4) and determine the impacts this dynamic system has on the reproductive
strategies of the loggerhead turtles nesting in this area.

CHAPTER 2
WINDS, CURRENTS, AND SAND MOVEMENT ALONG CAPE SAN BLAS,
FLORIDA
Introduction
Formation and maintenance of barrier islands require abundant sand supplies.
Stabilization of sea level in the past 4,000 to 5,000 years has eliminated many of the
sources that have provided sand to barrier islands, and the remaining sources, such as
river effluents or exposed cliffs, are often local. Distribution of this sand will influence
patterns of erosion and accretion on nearby barrier islands, thereby affecting the
morphology and habitat of the barrier island system. Movement of sand within and
among barrier island systems is most often influenced by the wind patterns, current
patterns, and submarine geology of the region, and variations in these factors may
determine the stability of the system.
Winds influence sand movement through airborne transportation and creation of
ocean currents and waves. Fine-grained sand that is not stabilized by vegetation may be
picked up by wind currents and transported, which assists in barrier island development
and maintenance. During barrier island development, an offshore bar may form due to an
oversupply of sand and the action of waves and tides, and further development of this bar
into a barrier island may occur through deposition of aeolian sands (Stanley and Swift
1976). Winds may also assist in maintenance of barrier island systems by depositing
sand on beach ridges to help create and sustain dunes (King 1959, Johnson and Barbour
1990).
6

7
Although winds may have a direct effect on barrier island development and
maintenance through airborne transportation, their influence may be more significant
through the creation of waves and ocean currents. Most surface currents are driven by
wind. Along the coast, the direction the wind is traveling will influence whether currents
carry sediment onshore or offshore, thereby contributing to erosion or accretion (Stone et
al. 1992). Winds also influence wave height, direction, and speed. In shallow water,
waves will interact with the ocean floor, which will place some of the sediment lying
along the ocean floor in suspension, thereby making them available for transport (Hayes
1979). The angle of the beach, angle of wave approach, and amount of wave energy
influence net movement of sand by breakers on or off the beach (Hayes 1979). Sediment
placed in suspension by waves may also be picked up and transported by currents.
In addition to placing sediment in suspension and carrying it onshore and offshore
as breakers, waves also create nearshore currents that are major transporters of sand along
barrier islands. When waves strike the coast they release energy and generate currents
that flow parallel to the shoreline (Hayes 1979). The angle of wave approach is
positively correlated with the strength of this longshore current. Longshore currents are
often the primary method of sand transportation within barrier island systems (Swift
1975, Stone et al. 1992). Many of the barrier islands off Mississippi have foundations
that were formed through longshore drift aggradation (Otvos 1981), and morphology of
several barrier islands off Northwest Florida and Southeast Alabama is maintained by
sand that is transported into the system by longshore currents (Stone et al. 1992).
Longshore currents may cause erosion by carrying sand away from beaches or promote
accretion by transporting sand on to beaches. The influence of winds, currents, and

8
waves on barrier islands may be regulated by the submarine morphology of the
surrounding region (Swift 1975, Morton 1979, Otvos 1981). In shallow waters, the entire
water column may be influenced by wind, whereas in deeper waters, variations in
temperature and salinity create differences in density that form deep-water currents that
flow independently of the wind (Swift 1975). Therefore, a gently sloping continental
shelf may result in shallow waters that are primarily wind-driven. Water depth also
influences wave development, with deep water sustaining waves and shallow water
creating breakers (Swift 1975). A shallow continental shelf may allow formation of
breakers farther offshore than a deeper shelf, and this may allow more sediment to remain
in suspension for transportation. Gentle slopes and shallower waters also, however,
prevent large waves from building, thereby decreasing the amount of energy influencing
the coast (Swift 1975).
The wind, current, and wave patterns, in addition to the submarine geology, of the
northern Gulf of Mexico have permitted formation of a barrier island chain that extends
from Alligator Point, Florida to the eastern coast of Mexico. The shallow continental
shelf in the northern Gulf creates low wave energy, and large rivers, such as the
Apalachicola, Mobile, and Mississippi, are potential sources of sediment for these barrier
island systems (Kofoed and Gorsline 1963, Stauble 1971, Morton 1979, Otvos 1981,
Stone et al. 1992). Although many of the characteristics necessary for barrier island
development and maintenance appear to exist in this region, details of how these
mechanisms combined to form this barrier island system have been debated (Schwartz
1971, Fisher 1982).

9
Since the mid-1800’s, there have been many theories as to how barrier islands
throughout the world form and continue to be maintained. In 1845, Elie de Beaumont
suggested barrier islands developed when wave action deposited sediments offshore and
created an emerging bar. This theory of barrier island development was accepted for
decades, until 1942, when Evans observed that bars in Michigan lakes were limited by
wave action from building above the water’s surface. This suggestion inspired further
research on barrier island origins, which resulted in multiple theories and debate. Some
researchers argued barrier islands originated as onshore ridges and migrated offshore to
become barriers (Swift 1975), while others believed offshore ridges developed and
migrated onshore where they grew into barriers through longshore drift (Field and Duane
1976). From 1970 to 1973, as quickly as one theory about development of barrier islands
off North Carolina was proposed, another was published with evidence to the contrary
(Pierce and Colquhoun 1970, Cooke 1971, Hails 1971, Fisher 1973). Schwartz (1971)
attempted to reconcile this discussion by suggesting multiple modes of origin for this
system.
The debate about methods of barrier island development has also occurred for
systems in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1890, McGee suggested that coastal subsidence of
shore ridges resulted in formation of barrier islands in the Gulf. Stratigraphic studies on
Galveston Island, Texas, in the early 1950’s, however, indicated these systems developed
through submerging shorelines (LeBlanc and Hodgson 1959, Shepard 1960), and in 1970,
Otvos claimed barrier islands off Mississippi developed from emerging shoals. The
depth and complexity of the research on barrier island development suggests there are
multiple types of barrier islands undergoing different forms of development due to

10
variations in controlling mechanisms, such as topography, sediment sources, and
meteorological conditions (Fisher 1982).
Variations in these mechanisms may also influence how barrier islands are
maintained once they have developed. In some areas, sediment for barrier islands may be
provided by river effluence whereas in others, it may be supplied by offshore sources
(Stauble 1971, Stone et al. 1992). The way this sediment is transported may also differ,
with waves acting as the primary force in some areas, and currents or tides providing the
primary mechanism in another (Kofoed and Gorsline 1963, Stauble 1971, Stone et al.
1992). To fully understand the dynamics of a specific barrier island system, the local and
regional mechanisms must be examined.
Although many studies have been conducted on the development and
maintenance of barrier islands along the northern Gulf of Mexico, few researchers have
conducted an integrated investigation of the primary mechanisms influencing one specific
barrier island (Tanner 1961, Stauble 1971, Stone et al. 1992). Many studies have focused
on the movement of sediment within the system (Stapor 1971, Stone et al. 1992), the
patterns of erosion influencing the coast (Morton 1979), or the geologic evolution of the
area (Wilkinson 1975). Few studies have integrated all of these aspects to investigate the
role of the barrier island within the local and regional system; therefore the objectives of
this study were to assess 1) wind speed and direction, 2) sand grain size, 3) and patterns
of erosion along Cape San Bias, Florida.
Study Site
Located in Northwest Florida, Cape San Bias (latitude 29° 40’ 10” N and
longitude 85° 20’ 30” W) comprises the southern tip of the St. Joseph Peninsula (Fig. 2-
1). This peninsula is approximately 21 km long and between 450 and 1400 km wide,

11
runs north/south, and is convex gulfward (Stauble and Warnke 1974). Research for this
project was conducted along 5 km of beach, which encompassed the extreme southern tip
of the peninsula. The region south of Cape San Bias consists of shoals that extend
southward approximately 16 km into the Gulf of Mexico (Stauble 1971; Fig. 2-2). To the
northeast of the shoal is a basin that gradually slopes seaward and is characterized by
smooth topography (Kofoed and Gorsline 1963, Stauble 1971). Southeast of the shoal is
an area of ridges and swales that run from east to west, paralleling the shoreline, and
along the west and northwest is a smooth, gently-undulating, seaward-sloping shelf that
contains seven depressions greater than 13m (Stauble and Warnke 1974).
It is believed that Cape San Bias formed through offshore shoal aggradation
during the Holocene, approximately 4,000 to 5,000 years ago (Otvos 1981). Prior to the
Holocene rise in sea level, the Apalachicola River delta spanned an area of approximately
150 km, from present day Panama City to the Ochlocknee River (Kofoed and Gorsline

12
1963). This delta provided the region with a large source of sand, and as sea level rose,
this sediment was drowned. Wave and current patterns may have aggraded this excess
sediment causing formation of barrier islands (Otvos 1981). Eventually, these climactic
and geologic changes shifted the delta approximately 15 km south or southeast to its
present-day location approximately 25 km east of Cape San Bias, and caused it to narrow
to its present width of approximately 12 km (Gorsline 1966, Kofoed and Gorsline 1963).
Figure 2-2. A schematic drawing of the bathymetry off Cape San
Bias, Florida, from Stauble and Warnke (1974).

13
Methods
Sand Grain Size
To assess size of sand grains along Cape San Bias, sand samples were collected
from the mean high water mark and in front of the dunes at four Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission (FWCC) benchmarks (Fig. 2-3). Cores were constructed from
five cm PVC pipe that was seven cm in diameter, and were long enough to gather
samples at a depth of 30 cm. In January and August 2000, samples were also collected
from the tip of the St. Joseph Peninsula, the middle region of the peninsula
(approximately 8 km south of the tip), and the entrance of St. Joseph State Park (Eagle
Harbor). In addition, sand was collected from the bottom of the Apalachicola River at
the mouth and five kilometers upstream. The upstream site was located along a small
bend in the river. One sample was taken in the center of the channel, one along the east
edge and one along the west edge. The east edge encompassed the outside of the curve in
the river and the west edge was located on the inside of the bend. After collection, sand
was dried in a warm (approximately 175°) oven for about two hours and separated by
grain size in a standard sand shaker. A Student’s t-test was used to assess the significance
of differences in grain size between the dune and mean high water, and among
geographic locations (Zar 1984).
Wind
Wind patterns along Cape San Bias were assessed using data gathered by a
National Weather Service C-Man station located at mile-marker 2.2 on Cape San Bias
(Fig. 2-3). Data available from the weather station included date, time, speed of wind
gusts, barometric and atmospheric pressure, dew point, wind direction, and wind speed.

14
Figure 2-3. The location ofFWCC benchmarks 107, 110, 121, and 123, and
a National Weather Service station along Cape San Bias, Florida as shown
on an aerial photograph of the region from 1999.
For analysis, wind directions were divided into eight categories of 45 degrees each: north,
northeast, east, southeast, south, southwest, west, and northwest. A logistic regression
was used to determine if a significant relationship existed between wind direction and
erosion.
Currents
During the 2000 summer season, buoys were deployed weekly at the four FWCC
benchmarks to determine nearshore current patterns and velocities. Buoys consisted of
frozen grapefruit. Grapefruits were launched from the water’s edge using a modified
slingshot attached to the rear of a four-wheel drive pickup truck. The buoys were
observed as long as possible by personnel who were onshore. Every 15 minutes, time,

15
distance, and wind speed and direction were recorded. In addition, launch and retrieval
locations were recorded with a GPS unit. To estimate the amount and direction of sand
transported by the longshore current (longshore drift), daily oceanographic observations
following those of Schneider and Weggel (1982) were conducted at one benchmark on
east beach (121) and one along west beach (110) from April through August 2000. Data
collected included wave period, direction, and type, breaker height, wind speed, current
speed and direction, foreshore slope, and width of the surf zone. These data were then
used to calculate longshore drift using the equation of Walton (1980), which incorporates
fluid density, acceleration of gravity, breaking wave height, width of surf zone, mean
longshore current velocity, distance of buoy used to determine current velocity from
shore, and a friction factor (0.1). The relationship between current direction and wind
direction, and between current direction and sand movement was assessed using logistic
regression in Minitab (Minitab, Inc. 1996).
Topography
Topographical measurements occurred along the west and east beaches of Cape
San Bias twice a month during sea turtle season and once a month throughout the
remainder of the year. Transects originated at the same four benchmarks where sand
samples were collected. Heights were obtained using a laser transit and were recorded
every five meters along the transect, as far into the Gulf of Mexico as possible.
Results
Sand Grain Size
Sand samples were collected 11 times along Cape San Bias from June 1999 to
June 2000, twice along the St. Joseph Peninsula (January and August 2000), and once
within the Apalachicola River (August 2000). At each location on Cape San Bias, sand

16
collected from mean high water was coarser than that collected from the base of the
dunes (p <0.01; Fig. 2-4). The largest grains were recorded from sand collected just east
of the cape spit at benchmark 121, and the smallest grain size was documented in sand
collected from the most northern benchmark (107; Table 2-1). Along the St. Joseph
Peninsula, there was no significant difference in the size of sand grains collected at mean
high water and the dunes (Fig. 2-5). The largest grains were recorded in sand collected
from Eagle Harbor. Sand grain size was similar between the middle and the tip of the
peninsula. Size of sand grains collected from mean high water did not differ between
Cape San Bias and the St. Joseph Peninsula; however sand grains from the dunes on the
St. Joseph Peninsula were larger than those from the dunes on Cape San Bias (p < 0.05).
Sand collected from the mouth of the Apalachicola River was similar to the mean size of
that collected along the dunes on Cape San Bias, differing by only 1.7 pm (Fig. 2-6).
Two kilometers up river, sand grain size was coarser than sand collected from anywhere
on Cape San Bias or the St. Joseph Peninsula. In this area, the smallest grains were
collected from the center of the river channel, and the largest grains from the western
edge of the river
Winds
Wind direction was gathered every day from May 1998 through August 2000
(Table 2-2). During the fall and winter, the wind blew primarily from the north and east
(N, NE, E), whereas during the spring and summer it blew mainly from the south and
west (S, SW, W).

17
Figure 2-4. Mean grain size (pm) of sand collected from benchmarks 121 (a) and 123
(b) along east beach, and 110 (c) and 107 (d) along west beach of Cape San Bias,
Florida.

18
mean high water dune
Figure 2-5. Size of sand grains (pm) from mean high water and the base of
the dunes collected in May 2000 along the tip (a), mid-point (b) and harbor
(c) of the St. Joseph Peninsula.

19
Figure 2-6. Grain size from sand collected in August 2000 from the
Apalachicola River, along the center and edges of the channel five-
kilometers upstream, and from the mouth of the river.

20
Table 2-1. Mean grain size of sand (pm) collected from Cape San Blas (CSB) and St.
Joseph State Park. On CSB, sand was collected at four Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission benchmarks: two along west beach and two on east beach.
Within St. Joseph State Park, sand was collected at Eagle Harbor, mid-way between the
harbor and tip, and along the tip of the peninsula.
CSB - West
CSB - East
St. Joseph State Par
c
107
110
121
123
Eagle Harbor
mid-point
tip
MHW
267.4
273.3
288.1
274.3
290.3
253.9
252.9
Dune
229.6
232.2
236.5
230.4
261.3
244.1
248.0
Table 2-2. Grain size (pm) of sediment collected from the Apalachicola River
at the mouth, and from five kilometers upstream in the center and the east and
west edges of the channel.
river mouth
upriver - center
upriver - east
upriver - west
Grain Size
230.5
326.9
339.0
1222.9
Currents
Current speed and direction were observed on 13 days from April 2000 through
August 2000. Along east and west beach, there was a positive relationship between wind
and current direction (p < 0.001; Fig. 2-7). This relationship was also observed from
results of oceanographic observations. Observations were collected for 57 days from
April through August 2000. Along west beach, the current traveled west on 21 (36.8%)
days and east on 36 (63.2%) days. When the current flow was west (W), the wind blew
primarily from the NE, E, SE or S (85.7%), and when it traveled east it blew most often
from the SW, W, NW or N (81%; p < 0.0001). Along east beach, the current traveled
west on 14 (25.4%) days and east on 41 (74.6%) days. When the current flow was
westerly, the wind blew from the N, NE, E, or SE as often (50%) as when it blew from
the NW, W, SW, or S (50%). However, when the current traveled east, the wind blew
primarily from the NW, W, SW, or S (80.5%; p = 0.013).

Figure 2-7. Along Cape San Blas, Florida, current direction is influenced by wind direction. From June 1998 through
August 2000, when the wind blew from the east (a), currents moved to the west, and westerly winds (b) resulted in
easterly currents.

Table 2-3. Percentage of the time the wind blew from one of eight directions (N = north, NE = northeast, E = east,
SE = southeast, S = south, SW = southwest, W = west, NW = northwest) per season from May 1998 through August
2000 along Cape Sna Bias, Florida.
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
N
17
17
13
12
8
6
6
8
15
22
23
18
NE
16
12
9
7
7
13
9
13
29
33
27
24
E
29
18
16
7
6
8
7
10
18
18
16
24
SE
12
13
16
18
17
13
10
8
10
8
10
15
S
5
9
10
13
12
13
11
13
5
3
6
3
SW
3
9
11
15
25
20
21
18
6
2
2
1
w
7
11
12
16
17
20
25
21
8
5
4
4
NW
11
11
13
11
8
7
11
8
8
8
12
11
to
to

23
Figure 2-8. Profiles of the beach along the west coast of Cape San Bias, Florida, from
1998 to 2000. The profiles began at a FL FWC benchmark and ran along the dunes,
over the beach face, and as far into the water as possible. The water line represents the
tidal height at the time of sampling.
Figure 2-9. Profiles of the east beach of Cape San Bias, Florida from 1998 through 2000.
The profiles began at a FL FWC benchmark and ran along the dunes, over the beach face, and
as far into the water as possible. The water line represents the tidal height at the time of
sampling.

24
Figure 2-10. Along Cape San Blas, Florida there is a relationship between wind
direction and sand movement. Winds from the east result in accretion (+), whereas
those from the west cause erosion (-).

25
Topography
From September 1998 to August 2000, west beach lost 4.95 m of sand along the
entire profile (Fig. 2-8). Individual points along the profile differed; the greatest loss (-
1.17 m) occurred 30 meters from the benchmark whereas the first 15 m of the profile
gained 0.16 m. During this period, east beach gained 3.78 m of sand along the entire
profile (Fig. 2-9). The greatest gain (0.61 m) occurred 35 m from the benchmark, while
the greatest loss (-0.18 m) was documented 45 m from the benchmark.
There was a significant relationship between wind direction and sand movement.
On both beaches, accretion occurred more often when the wind blew from the east than
when it blew from the west, whereas erosion occurred more often during winds from the
west than those from the east (p < 0.05; Fig. 2-10). There was no seasonal variation in
sand movement.
Discussion
The submarine topography off Cape San Bias influenced the wind patterns in this
region, which affected current direction and distribution of sediment within this barrier
island system. Cape San Bias lies along the large, smooth, inner subsection of the West
Florida continental shelf in the northern Gulf of Mexico (Bergantino 1971). This gently
sloping shelf typifies the submarine topography of the eastern Gulf of Mexico and results
in water depths of less than 180 m (Bergantino 1971). These shallow waters are greatly
influenced by winds therefore oceanographic currents in this area are primarily wind-
driven. The shallow shelf also prevents buildup of large waves therefore this area of the
coast is generally considered one of moderate energy (Tanner 1960, Tanner 1961, Kofoed
and Gorsline 1963). This area is not uniform, however. The spit that extends from Cape
San Bias into the Gulf of Mexico divides this shelf into two basic regions. East of the

26
shoal the shelf is smooth and slopes gently offshore. Waters do not reach depths of 15 m
until approximately 20 km offshore. West of the shoal, the shelf undulates seaward and
contains several deep depressions (Stauble and Wamke 1974). Off this coast, waters may
reach 15 m in depth within approximately 6 km (Stauble 1971). Local variations in shelf
depth to the east and west of the Cape San Bias shoals create differences in the amount of
wave-energy that influence these coasts. Deeper waters off west beach allow larger
waves to form than the shallow waters off east beach do, therefore west beach
experiences greater wave energy than east beach (Tanner 1961, Gorsline 1966). The
mean wave height off east beach is almost zero, whereas mean wave height off west
beach is approximately 30 cm (Gorsline 1966). The wind-driven currents and variations
in wave energy along Cape San Bias create the dynamic system that maintains this barrier
island.
Although wave action is minimal in this area, erosion has been severe. Results of
this study support those of Tanner (1975) and Balsillie (1981) indicating extreme erosion
along the western coast and accretion along the eastern beach. Comparison of this sand
movement with wind patterns indicates sediment is transported to Cape San Bias during
easterly winds. Because winds blow from the east predominately in fall and winter,
accretion potential is greater during these seasons; however seasonality in erosional
patterns was not observed during this study. Daily variations in wind speed and
direction, and sampling design most likely caused this insignificant relationship. Profiles
of the beach were conducted at most, every other week. If measurements were recorded
immediately following one day of strong east winds, accretion would be documented.
The remainder of the time period, however, winds may have blown from the west and

27
erosion may have occurred, but this was not observed due to timing of sampling. To
accurately assess seasonal variation in erosion and accretion along Cape San Bias,
profiles should be conducted daily; however this was logistically difficult within the
scope of this project due to the time and effort required to complete topographical
profiles. Although there was no significant seasonality to the pattern of erosion and
accretion, there was a significant relationship between wind direction and sand
movement, which indicated the primary source of sediment for Cape San Bias is located
east of this region.
Three primary sources of sediment have been suggested for Cape San Bias:
erosion of local headlands, effluence of the Apalachicola River, and relict sands
deposited prior to the Holocene rise in sea level (Tanner 1964, Schnable and Goodell
1968, Stauble and Warnke 1974). Tanner (1964) suggested erosion of local headlands is
the most likely source of sediment for this area because of the extreme erosion that
occurs in this region. He suggested most of the sediment carried in the Apalachicola
River remains within the Apalachicola Bay system. In addition, Stapor (1971) identified
six longshore drift compartments between the Apalachicola River and St. Joseph
Peninsula, with little net exchange of sand among them. He suggested sand deposited
along the northern tip of the St. Joseph Peninsula was originally eroded off the west
beach of Cape San Bias. Therefore, these barrier island systems may not be supplying
new sediment, but re-distributing what was already deposited.
Results of this study indicate a redistribution of sand may occur within this barrier
island system, although this may not serve as the primary source of sand for Cape San
Bias. Sand grain size along the St. Joseph Peninsula was similar to sand collected along

28
the east and west beaches of Cape San Bias. Possibly, sand deposited along the northern
peninsula is picked up along the west beach of Cape San Bias. As this sediment is
transported northward by longshore drift, coarser sand may drop out of suspension
earlier, thus the larger mean grain size from sand collected at Eagle Harbor. Mid-way up
the peninsula, sand grains of intermediate size were deposited, while the finest grains
were dropped along the tip of the peninsula. This also supports Stapor’s (1971) theory
that Cape San Bias and the St. Joseph Peninsula should be considered one longshore drift
compartment.
Sand deposited along Cape San Bias, however, most likely originates outside of
the St. Joseph Peninsula. Sediment is dropped along Cape San Bias primarily when
winds blow from the east. Because the St. Joseph Peninsula lies northwest of Cape San
Bias, when winds blew from the east, sand from the Peninsula would be carried away
from Cape San Bias, thereby removing this area as a potential source of sand for Cape
San Bias. Therefore, there must be another source for sand deposited along Cape San
Bias, such as the Apalachicola River or a deposit of relict sediments to the east. The
Apalachicola River carries sediment nearly 1,500 km through Georgia, Alabama, and
northern Florida before reaching the Gulf of Mexico (Leitman et al. 1991). Heavier,
coarse-grained sand drops out of suspension along the edges of the river, and finer
sediment is carried in the center of the channel. This was observed in samples collected
within the river during this study. The heaviest portions of this fine-grained sediment
drop out of suspension in the mouth of the river. Kofoed and Gorsline (1974) reported
sand grain size in Apalachicola Bay decreased with distance from the mouth of the river.
They suggested the finest sediments remained in suspension and were deposited

29
primarily in the smooth, broad depression located along the northwest comer of the bay
(Kofoed and Gorsline 1974). This area is protected from wave energy by the topography
of the bay, therefore it traps much of the sediment deposited by the river.
It has generally been accepted that the Apalachicola River is not the primary
source of sand for Cape San Bias (Tanner 1964, Schnable and Goodell 1968, Stauble and
Warnke 1974). The wave energy in this region is believed to be too weak to distribute
sediment deposited into Apalachicola Bay by the river (Tanner 1960, 1964). Much of the
sediment from the Apalachicola River is deposited in the broad depression in the
northwest of the bay and in the barrier islands surrounding the bay. According to Tanner
(1964) these barrier islands contain enough sand to account for the total sand load of the
river for approximately 5,000 years. This leaves very little sediment available for
transport and deposition outside of the Apalachicola Bay.
Although not all of the sand deposited on Cape San Bias may have originated in
the river, analysis of sand grain size during this study supports the idea that some of the
sediment on Cape San Bias was transported from the Apalachicola River. Sand grain
size reported by Kofoed and Gorsline (1963) from the mouth of the river (250 um) was
similar to grain size collected from that region during this study (231 um), and from the
east (281 um) and west (270 um) beaches of Cape San Bias. Perhaps the majority of
fine-grained sediment carried by the river is deposited within the Apalachicola Bay, but
coarser sand remains in suspension and is deposited when it reaches Cape San Bias.
According to Kofoed and Gorsline (1963) the majority of sand in the Apalachicola Bay is
less than 100 um in size indicating a portion of the larger grained sediment may be
transported out of the bay.

30
The Apalachicola River may serve as a secondary source of sand for Cape San
Bias; however a large portion of sediment deposited in this region most likely originates
from another source. Analyses of sand samples collected offshore of Cape San Bias
indicated an area of relatively coarse (250 to 1000 um), relict, quartz sand located
between Cape San Bias and Cape St. George (Kofoed and Gorsline 1963). Many
researchers believe this area serves as the primary source of sand for this barrier island
system (Kofoed and Gorsline 1963, Stauble and Warnke 1974) and results of this study
support these beliefs. Grain size of sand collected along Cape San Bias during this study
(267 to 288 um) was similar to that observed within this deposit of relict sand (250 um).
In addition, because this potential sand source lies southeast of Cape San Bias, this
sediment is available for transport to the area in easterly winds (Kofoed and Gorsline
1963). Perhaps, easterly winds create westward flowing currents that place the finer
sediments of this relict deposition in suspension. The currents carry this sediment to
Cape San Bias, where it is dropped along the coast.
In addition to sand grain size, it is apparent from patterns of accretion and erosion
that the source of sand for Cape San Bias lies east of the region. Most likely, the
Apalachicola River provides a small portion of that sand, while a deposition of relict sand
offshore of Cape San Bias serves as the primary sand source. Perhaps, winds from the
east create ocean currents that carry coarse-grained sediment from the Apalachicola River
westward to Cape San Bias. In addition, these currents place the finer sediments of the
relict sand deposits in suspension and carry them westward. Much of this sediment may
be dropped once it reaches the shallow waters of the basin and Cape San Bias shoals,
which results in accretion along the east beach of Cape San Bias. This removal of sand

31
from the water column east of the shoals would limit the amount of sand available to the
west beach of Cape San Bias, which would contribute to erosion in this area. Some fine¬
grained sand may remain in suspension while traveling over the shoals, which would
permit some accretion on west beach during east winds.
Winds from the west, however, may create ocean currents that carry sediment
from the Apalachicola River and the relict deposit eastward, away from Cape San Bias.
Because no local source of sediment lies west of Cape San Bias, currents originating in
the west may not carry sediment to Cape San Bias and may cause erosion. Therefore, the
east beach of Cape San Bias accretes because it receives sediment during east winds and
is buffered from sediment-poor westward currents by the cape shoals. The west beach
erodes because sand transported during east winds is dropped east of the cape spit, and no
source of local sediment is available for transport during west winds.
Maintenance of the Cape San Bias system occurs through wind-driven currents
that carry sediment from an offshore deposit of relict sands. The submarine topography
of the region surrounding Cape San Bias has created this system, and the characteristics
of this topography promote mechanisms that drive the dynamics of this barrier island.

CHAPTER 3
THE INFLUENCE OF BARRIER ISLAND DYNAMICS ON THE ABUNDANCE
AND DISTRIBUTION OF INTERTIDAL INVERTEBRATES AND SHOREBIRDS
Introduction
Changes in coastal habitat may greatly influence foraging shorebirds. Because
prey for many shorebirds inhabit either the substrate or water column within the intertidal
zone, longshore currents and shifting sands may influence the ability of these prey to
survive within extremely dynamic beaches (Croker et al. 1975, Knott et al. 1983, Skagen
and Oman 1996). Sand movement along coasts may also alter the size of foraging habitat
available to shorebirds thereby influencing shorebird abundance and distribution (Goss-
Custard and Yates 1992). Shorebird communities foraging along dynamic coasts must
respond to the ever-changing environment and the influence these changes have on
availability of prey and ability of foraging habitat to remain stable and persist.
Shorebirds foraging in coastal habitats feed primarily on intertidal invertebrates.
Skagen and Oman (1996) compiled data on prey taken by 10 of the most common
shorebird species in the western hemisphere. Of the 55 orders of invertebrates eaten by
these species, approximately 60% inhabit the intertidal zone. The abundance and
distribution of these invertebrates often determine the abundance and distribution of
shorebirds. In the Mad River estuary, California, differences in shorebird abundance
were attributable to variations in abundance of one amphipod genus (Corophium spp;
Colwell and Landrum 1993), and along the Wash, England, changes in invertebrate
32

33
densities were the main factors determining spatial variations in shorebird densities
(Yates et al. 1993). Availability of invertebrates may also influence distribution of
shorebirds. Along Bodega Bay, California, sanderlings (Calidris alba) moved from the
outer beach to harbor sandflats when receding tides caused reduced invertebrate
availability along the outer beach (Connors et al. 1981). Because shorebird abundance
and distribution is closely related to invertebrate availability, changes in the invertebrate
community may greatly affect shorebird foraging.
Invertebrate activity and availability is significantly influenced by habitat
variability, and because of the relationship between invertebrate and shorebird abundance
and distribution, this variability also affects foraging shorebirds (Evans 1976, Connors et
al. 1981, Grant 1984). For example, many invertebrates burrow more deeply in cold
weather, at low tide or in windy conditions, making them less accessible to many
shorebird species (Evans 1976, Pienkowski 1981). Larger sand grains may interfere with
a shorebird’s ability to capture smaller infaunal prey, and softer, more penetrable
sediment permits faster and deeper probing by shorebirds (Burger et al. 1977, Quammen
1982, Grant 1984). Increased amounts of rain interfere with invertebrate surface
activities, and without the feeding or respiratory structures protruding above ground,
many shorebirds are unable to extract these invertebrates from the sediment (Goss-
Custard 1970, Pienkowski 1981, Dodd and Colwell 1998). Therefore, climactic and
structural variability in the habitat directly affects invertebrate abundance and distribution
thereby influencing shorebird foraging.
Extreme changes in the habitat due to erosional processes may cause changes in
community structure of intertidal invertebrates. Seasonal changes of intertidal

34
invertebrate communities in the tropics are often associated with the monsoons, which
cause severe erosion and reduce salinity (Ansell et al. 1972, McLusky et al. 1975, Ong
and Krishnan 1995). Following a tropical storm, the macrobenthos composition along
Telok Aling beach in Malaysia changed from being dominated by a gastropod to a
predominately polychaete and bivalve community (Ong and Krishnan 1995). Species
richness increased, whereas mean population density decreased after the storm. These
changes in community structure following severe erosion may occur due to defaunation
of the area, which allows more species to recolonize and occupy the habitat (Grassle and
Sanders 1973, Johnson 1974, Arbugov 1982, Ong and Krishnan 1995).
Barrier islands are extremely dynamic and undergo constant erosion and
accretion, yet these systems also provide important habitat for foraging shorebirds. The
family Scolopacidae comprises 40% of the shorebirds in the world, including Calidris
sandpipers, dowitchers (Limnodromus sp), godwits, and curlews, and approximately 80%
of these species use coastal habitat during winter or migration (Burger 1984). During
migration, most scolopacids travel considerable distances offshore and typically barrier
islands are the last land available before crossing oceans and the first habitat encountered
when returning (Burger 1984). Many other shorebirds, including Charadrius species and
Haematopodius, species also rely on coastal habitat during migration (Burger 1984).
Barrier island sediments consist primarily of sand, which is easily transported by
winds, oceanographic currents, and tides, resulting in unstable habitat (LaRoe 1976).
This sand may have originated from several sources including deposition by rivers, and
erosion of offshore sources by rising seas (Otvos 1981). Variation in sand availability
may create long-term and short-term instability along barrier island coastlines. Since the

35
rise in sea level during the Holocene, many offshore sand sources for barrier islands have
been drowned, which has resulted in erosion of many of these systems (Wilkinson 1975,
Morton 1979, Otvos 1981). In the late 1970’s, 45% of the Texas coast was losing more
than 3.5 m of sand per year (Morton 1979). The eastern shore of Cape Fear, North
Carolina lost approximately 500 m of sand between 1849 and 1929 (Bird 1985), the coast
of Rhode Island lost an average 0.7 m per year from 1938 to 1975, and the western coast
of Florida near Sarasota lost an average 0.6 m per year between 1957 and 1973 (Banks
1975, Fisher and Simpson 1979, Bird 1985). Much of the sand transported off barrier
islands is deposited within the same barrier island system, resulting in accretion of a
nearby coast. Sand removed from the eastern shore of Cape Fear, North Carolina may
have been deposited along the southern shore, which gained up to 200 m of sediment
during the same time period that erosion occurred (Bird 1985). Although the coast of
Texas has experienced erosion, accretion has occurred along several barrier islands off
Louisiana (Bird 1985). Variability in sea level has altered sources of sand for many
barrier island systems, which has created extremely dynamic systems undergoing erosion
and accretion.
To determine how foraging shorebirds have responded to this dynamic
environment, the following goals were defined: assess the, 1. dynamics of Cape San Bias,
including wind, current, and tidal patterns, and changes in beach profiles, 2. changes in
shorebird prey availability, 3. abundance and distribution of shorebirds, and 4.
persistence and stability of the shorebird community.

36
Study Site
This study was conducted along five kilometers of beach on Cape San Bias,
Florida (latitude 29° 40’ 10” N and longitude 85° 20’ 30” W; see Fig. 2-1). Cape San
Bias represents the southern-most point of the St. Joseph Peninsula, which is part of a
barrier island chain extending along the northern Gulf of Mexico. This system was most
likely formed by offshore shoal aggradation after the stabilization of sea level
approximately 4,000 to 5,000 years ago (Swift 1975, Otvos 1981). The forces that helped
developed and continue to maintain this system also drive the dynamic pattern of
accretion and erosion that occurs along Cape San Bias (see Chapter 2). The eastern
beach of Cape San Bias undergoes accretion, whereas the western coast experiences
some of the greatest erosional rates in Florida. From June 1994 to September 1995, the
west beach lost approximately 10 m (Lamont et al. 1997). Cape San Bias is also an
important area for foraging shorebirds. This region supports a large number and wide
variety of shorebirds, including several threatened species. From 1994 to 1996, 26
shorebird species were observed along Cape San Bias (Lamont et al. 1997). Although
absolute numbers were less than observed along the primary migration route through
Texas (119.1/one kilometer survey along CSB 1994-1997; 269.9/one-kilometer survey
along Texas 1985) yearly species counts along Cape San Bias were comparable to counts
in Texas (Withers and Chapman 1993). In addition, Cape San Bias supports a significant
number of piping plovers (Charadrius melodus; federally threatened), which were the
fourth most common species observed from 1994 to 1996, and provides habitat for a
population of nesting snowy plovers (Charadrius alexandriunus; state-threatened;
Lamont et al. 1997).

37
Methods
Shorebird abundance and distribution
From May 1998 through September 2000, shorebird surveys were conducted
weekly during summer (May 15 through September 1) and monthly throughout the
remainder of the year. An observer walked along the landward edge of the beach from
the 0.0 mile-marker (mi) to the 2.9 mi, or in the opposite direction (see Fig. 2-3). Initial
survey direction was decided by a coin flip. All shorebirds observed on the beach and
along the shores of the lagoon were recorded. Birds were identified to species, and
behaviors, such as foraging, roosting, and bathing were noted. Morphologically similar
sandpiper species (white-rumped, western, least, semipalmated; Calidris spp.) were
grouped together and called peep, and observations of long-billed and short-billed
dowitcher (Limnodromus sp.) were combined and called dowitcher. All disturbances
observed during surveys were documented. Direction that birds flushed when
approached was noted so that birds traveling ahead of the observer were not recounted.
For analysis, the beach was divided into three 1.3-km sections: west (2.0 mi to 3.0
mi), cape (1.0 mi to 2.0 mi), and east (0.0 mi to 1.0 mi). Originally, birds observed along
the lagoon on the cape spit were included in counts for the cape beach; however in
December 1998, a separate category termed lagoon was created for birds documented in
this area. All birds observed within the high water mark along the entire shoreline of the
lagoon were counted and all data gathered. A one-way ANOVA and a Student’s t-test or
a non-parametric Kruskal-Wallis one-way ANOVA and Mann-Whitney Sum Rank test in
SigmaStat 2.0 (Jandel Corporation 1995) were used to assess differences in shorebird
abundance and diversity within and between locations, and among seasons (Zar 1984).

38
Persistence and stability
From January 1994 to December 1997, shorebird censuses were conducted as part
of the Cape San Bias Ecological Study (Lamont et al. 1997). These surveys were
performed weekly along the lagoon shores (lagoon #1 and #2) and the gulf side of the
cape spit from mile marker 1.0 to mile marker 1.7 (Fig. 3-1).

39
The area was surveyed on foot following the same general path that allowed full coverage
of both lagoons and the beach. From January 1998 through September 1998, surveys
continued on this general path along the shores of both lagoons; however an additional
portion of beach, from mile-marker 1.7 to mile-marker 2.0 was also included. Few birds
were recorded between mile-marker 1.7 and 2.0 therefore the increase in sampling
location was not considered a significant change in sampling regime. In September 1998,
Hurricanes Earl and Georges caused severe erosion along the cape spit and destroyed
lagoon #2 (Fig. 3-2). Therefore, from September 1998 to September 2000, surveys were
conducted along the shore of the lagoon (lagoon #1) and the beach along the cape spit
from mile-marker 1.0 to mile-marker 2.0 (see Fig. 3-1).
Changes in relative numbers of shorebirds over time (stability) and fluctuations in
species diversity over time (persistence) of the shorebird community were assessed for
1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, and 2000. Because two or more seasons were not sampled in
1996 and 1997, these years were not included in analyses. Stability and persistence were
compared among years and seasons, and within years for each season. Stability was
examined by comparing the abundance of shorebird species for paired years (1994 vs
1995, 1994 vs 1998, 1994 vs 1999, etc.). A Spearman’s rank correlation was used to
compare the relationship between paired collections (Zar 1984). In addition, Morisita’s
Index was used to test for similarity between any two paired-years (Wolda 1981). The
percentage change in species composition over time was calculated as the number of
species from year one that were also observed in year two, expressed as a percentage of
year one (Chapman and Chapman 1993). Because the greatest number of shorebird
species was often observed in sampling periods with the fewest number of surveys, it was

Figure 3-2. Cape San Blas, Florida before Hurricanes Opal, Earl, and Georges in 1993 (a) and after the
storms in 1999 (b). One of the lagoons was destroyed in Hurricane Georges, which reduced the amount
of habitat available to foraging shorebirds.

41
assumed that the chance of observing rare species was not affected by number of surveys.
Differences between years and seasons were assessed using a Student’s t-test or a non-
parametric Mann-Whitney U (Zar 1984).
Invertebrate abundance and distribution
At four Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC)
benchmarks (107, 110, 121, 123; see Fig. 2-3), cores of the beach were removed
biweekly during summer and once a month throughout the remainder of the year to assess
shorebird prey availability. Core sampling occurred at random times throughout the day
and among various tidal cycles to decrease these influences on invertebrate availability.
A 10-cm diameter core was inserted to a depth of 30 cm along a transect placed
perpendicularly to the benchmark (Colwell and Landrum 1993, Yates et al. 1993).
Samples were collected every 2 m from the seaward edge to the landward boundary of
the intertidal zone. At each 2 m location, three cores were taken approximately 0.5 m
apart. Samples were placed in a sieve to separate sand from possible prey items.
Specimens collected within the cores were counted, identified to species, and placed in
formalin for two to three days before being transferred to isopropyl alcohol for long-term
storage. A one-way ANOVA and Student’s t-test or a non-parametric Kruskal-Wallis
one-way ANOVA and Mann-Whitney Rank Sum test in SigmaStat 2.0 (Jandel
Corporation 1995) were used to assess differences in abundance between locations and
among seasons (Zar 1984).
Tides
Tidal patterns off the eastern and northern beaches of Cape San Bias were
recorded using a Hydrolab DataSonde 3 data logger. Off east beach, this equipment was

42
strapped to a steel screw-anchor that was placed in the seabed approximately 50 m
offshore. Off west beach, the water monitor was strapped to a wooden piling
approximately 75 m offshore. In each location, the monitor was programmed to record
water level, salinity, and temperature every 15 minutes. In 1998, the logger was placed
off west beach from June 21 to June 29, July 6 to July 19, and July 19 to August 16. In
1999, it recorded off west beach from June 18 to June 27. In 2000, the monitor was
placed off east beach from June 20 to June 23 and from August 6 to August 8. After
deployment, the monitor was retrieved and the information was transferred to an Excel
spreadsheet and plotted to display changes over time. Tidal heights gathered from the
water monitor were then compared to the historical heights published by the National
Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Tidal heights from Pensacola
Bay, Pensacola, Florida were retrieved from NOAA. Times were altered to adjust for the
approximately 400-km difference between Cape San Bias and Pensacola. Times for
falling tides were reduced by 51 minutes and for rising tides by 24 minutes. Tidal heights
were multiplied by the 1.1 correction factor suggested by NOAA to adjust for geographic
location. Tidal patterns from NOAA were graphed against those recorded by the water
monitor.
Winds
Wind patterns along Cape San Bias were assessed using data gathered by a
National Weather Service C-Man station located at mile-marker 2.2 on Cape San Bias.
Data available from the weather station included date, time, speed of wind gusts,
barometric and atmospheric pressure, dew point, wind direction, and wind speed. For

43
analysis, wind directions were divided into eight categories of 45 degrees each: north,
northeast, east, southeast, south, southwest, west, and northwest.
Currents
During the 2000 summer season, buoys were deployed weekly at the four FWCC
benchmarks to determine nearshore current patterns and velocities. Buoys consisted of
frozen grapefruit, which were both highly visible and did not burst on impact.
Grapefruits were launched from the water’s edge to approximately 100 m offshore using
a modified slingshot attached to the rear of a four-wheel drive pickup truck. The buoys
were observed as long as possible by personnel who were onshore. Every 15 minutes,
time, distance, and wind speed and direction were recorded. In addition, launch and
retrieval locations were recorded with a GPS unit. Retrieval locations were only
available when buoys washed back to shore. To estimate the amount and direction of
sand transported by the longshore current (longshore drift), daily oceanographic
observations following those of Schneider and Weggel (1982) were conducted at one
benchmark on east beach (121) and one along west beach (110) from April through
August 2000. Data collected included wave period, direction, and type, breaker height,
wind speed, current speed and direction, foreshore slope, and width of the surf zone.
These data were then used to calculate longshore drift using the equation of Walton
(1980), which incorporates fluid density, acceleration of gravity, breaking wave height,
width of surf zone, mean longshore current velocity, distance of buoy used to determine
current velocity from shore, and a friction factor (0.1). The relationship between current
direction and wind direction was assessed using logistic regression in Minitab (Minitab,
Inc. 1996).

44
Topography
Topographical measurements were taken along the west and east beaches of Cape
San Bias biweekly during summer (May 15 to September 1) and once a month
throughout the remainder of the year. Transects originated at four FWCC benchmarks.
Heights of the beach were recorded using a laser transit and were documented every five
meters along the transect, as far into the Gulf of Mexico as possible. The relationship
between sand movement and wind direction was assessed using logistic regression in
Minitab (Minitab, Inc. 1996).
Results
Shorebirds
Abundance and distribution
Fifty-four shorebird surveys were conducted from June 1998 to September 2000.
During this period, 6,189 (114.1/survey) shorebirds of 21 species were recorded.
Seasonally, overall shorebird abundance was greatest in winter, whereas species diversity
was largest in spring (Table 3-1). Geographically, overall abundance and diversity were
greatest along the lagoon and lowest along west beach (Table 3-2).
Eighteen species were observed along the lagoon, 17 on cape beach, 13 along east
beach, and eight on west beach. Shorebird species diversity was lowest on west beach
with three species comprising 89.6% of shorebirds observed (Table 3-3). Seven species
dominated (91.5%) the assemblage along cape beach, seven on the lagoon (90.6%), and
seven on east beach (94.8%). Within each location, the greatest number of birds was

Table 3-1. Total seasonal shorebird abundance and diversity along 5-km of beach on Cape San Bias,
Florida, from June 1998 through August 2000. P-values represent results of t-tests (*) or Mann-Whitney
Rank Sum tests.
Mean
Standard
Deviation
Spring
p-value
Summer
p-value
Fall
p-value
Winter
p-value
Abundance
Spring
157.75
97.07
/
0.018*
0.460
0.435
Summer
89.63
60.54
/
0.045*
0.724
Fall
132.00
50.32
/
0.174
Winter
160.80
249.74
/
Diversity
Spring
10.10
1.97
/
0.028
0.129*
0.003*
Summer
8.21
1.45
/
0.393
0.038
Fall
8.90
2.51
/
0.004*
Winter
5.63
1.89
/

Table 3-2. Shorebird abundance and diversity among each 1.2 km beach (West, Cape, East) and the Lagoon
on Cape San Bias, Florida, from June 1998 through August 2000. P-values represent results of t-tests (*) or
Mann-Whitney Rank Sum tests.
Mean
Standard
West
Cape
East
Lagoon
Deviation
p-value
p-value
p-value
p-value
Abundance
West
7.14
6.77
/
<0.001
<0.001
<0.001
Cape
27.24
21.19
/
0.033
0.425
East
40.76
35.22
/
0.471
Lagoon
54.97
83.03
/
Diversity
West
1.89
1.31
/
<0.001
<0.001
<0.001
Cape
5.17
2.64
/
0.754
0.407*
East
5.15
2.16
/
0.531
Lagoon
5.67
3.13
/

47
Table 3-3. The shorebird species that represent 90% of the shorebird community along
each beach (West, Cape, East) and the Lagoon on Cape San Bias, Florida, from June 1998
to August 2000.
WEST
CAPE
EAST
LAGOON
willet
sanderling
dunlin
sanderling
sanderling
willet
peep
willet
black-bellied plover
peep
sanderling
ruddy turnstone
ruddy turnstone
willet
dunlin
semipalmated plover
semipalmated plover
black-bellied plover
black-bellied plover
ruddy turnstone
snowy plover
dunlin
black-bellied plover
piping plover
documented during fall, except along the lagoon where more birds were observed in
spring and winter than in any other season (Fig. 3-3, Table 3-4). Seasonality in species
diversity was observed along each beach, with the greatest number of species observed
along west beach during spring and fall, along the lagoon during spring, and along cape
and east beach during fall (Fig. 3-4, Table 3-5).
Seasonal variability in abundance was noted for several species, although not all
comparisons were statistically significant. Four species, (black-bellied plovers -
Pluvialis squatarola, ruddy turnstones - Arneria interpres, piping plovers, and
sanderlings), exhibited the greatest numbers during the fall (Table 3-6). Three species
(dowitcher, peep, and semipalmated plovers - Charadrius semipalmatus) exhibited
greatest abundance in spring (Table 3-7). Willets (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus) were
more abundant in summer and fall than in winter or spring, and numbers of dunlin
(Calidhs alpina) were greatest in winter (Table 3-8).
Differences were also observed in abundance of individual species per beach.
Six species exhibited their greatest abundance along east beach (Table 3-9), whereas four

Figure 3-3. Seasonal abundance of shorebirds along each 1.3-km stretch
of beach (west, cape, east) and the lagoon along Cape San Bias, Florida,
from June 1998 through August 2000.
18
west cape east lagoon
Figure 3-4. Seasonal diversity of shorebirds along each 1.3-km stretch of
beach (west, cape, east) and the lagoon along Cape San Bias, Florida, from
June 1998 through August 2000.

49
Table 3-4. Seasonal shorebird abundance along each 1.3-km stretch of beach (West,
Cape, East) and the Lagoon on Cape San Bias, Florida, from June 1998 through August
2000. P-values represent results of t-tests (*) or Mann-Whitney Rank Sum tests.
Mean
Standard
Spring
Summer
Fall
Winter
Deviation
p-value
p-value
p-value
p-value
West
Spring
8.63
6.05
\
0.115
0.224*
0.919*
Summer
4.37
5.68
\
0.001
0.164
Fall
12.56
6.22
\
0.198*
Winter
8.20
7.60
\
Cape
Spring
19.88
21.50
\
0.665*
0.455*
0.194*
Summer
22.55
14.62
\
0.784*
0.176*
Fall
26.17
5.81
\
0.030
Winter
9.80
15.41
\
East
Spring
30.75
21.14
\
0.961*
0.032*
0.281*
Summer
30.33
40.45
\
0.002
0.361
Fall
70.10
67.60
\
0.588
Winter
57.00
22.80
\
Lagoon
Spring
98.50
36.70
\
0.037*
0.146*
0.043
Summer
41.05
25.74
\
0.311*
0.055
Fall
22.80
177.56
\
0.429
Winter
70.17
104.46
\

50
Table 3-5. Seasonal shorebird diversity along each 1.3-km stretch of beach
(West, Cape, East) and the Lagoon on Cape San Bias, Florida, from June 1998
through August 2000. P-values represent results of t-tests (*) or Mann-Whitney
Rank Sum tests.
Mean
Standard
Deviation
Spring
p-value
Summer
p-value
Fall
p-value
Winter
p-value
West
Spring
2.63
1.92
/
0.110
0.900*
0.545*
Summer
1.39
1.10
/
0.006
0.329
Fall
2.55
0.69
/
0.733
Winter
2.00
1.41
/
Cape
Spring
4.00
1.60
/
0.250*
0.035
0.652*
Summer
5.23
2.85
/
0.187*
0.221*
Fall
6.55
2.54
/
0.030*
Winter
3.60
1.34
/
East
Spring
5.38
1.69
/
0.392*
0.081*
0.724
Summer
4.70
2.02
/
0.006
0.759
Fall
6.64
1.29
/
0.395
Winter
4.20
3.77
/
Lagoon
Spring
7.88
3.76
/
0.098*
0.103*
0.030*
Summer
5.70
2.72
/
0.422*
0.071*
Fall
4.67
2.73
/
0.365*
Winter
3.20
2.28
/

51
Table 3-6. Abundance of individual shorebird species per season along 5-km of
beach on Cape San Bias, Florida, from June 1998 through August 2000. P-values
represent the results of t-tests (*) or Mann-Whitney Rank Sum tests. These four
species exhibited their greatest abundance in fall. BBPL = black-bellied plover,
RUTU = ruddy turnstone, PIPL = piping plover, SAND = sanderling.
Mean
Standard
Deviation
Spring
p-value
Summer
p-value
Fall
p-value
Winter
p-value
BBPL
Spring
4.88
4.42
/
0.837*
0.070*
0.962*
Summer
4.53
4.07
/
0.006
0.817*
Fall
10.40
7.00
/
0.146*
Winter
5.00
4.69
/
RUTU
Spring
10.38
6.14
/
0.192*
0.084*
0.171
Summer
7.10
6.20
/
0.001
0.322
Fall
17.19
9.05
/
0.138*
Winter
8.00
14.30
/
PBPL
Spring
5.13
8.64
/
0.720
0.107
0.622
Summer
2.70
3.83
/
0.001
0.587
Fall
8.27
4.86
/
0.009*
Winter
1.40
1.95
/
SAND
Spring
37.13
18.63
/
0.210
0.099
0.073*
Summer
27.13
26.86
/
0.014
0.741
Fall
54.23
27.37
/
0.015*
Winter
18.40
12.18
/

52
Table 3-7. Abundance of individual shorebird species per season along 5-km of
beach on Cape San Bias, Florida, from June 1998 through August 2000. P-values
represent results of t-tests(*) or Mann-Whitney Rank Sum tests. These three species
exhibited their greatest abundance in spring. DOWI = dowitcher, PEEP = sandpipers,
SEPL = semipalmated plover.
Mean
Standard
Spring
Summer
Fall
Winter
Deviation
p-value
p-value
p-value
p-value
DOWI
Spring
2.00
2.20
/
0.229
0.104
0.071*
Summer
0.67
1.27
/
0.220
0.246
Fall
0.91
0.30
/
0.816
Winter
0.00
0.00
/
PEEP
Spring
23.13
17.17
/
0.055
0.031*
0.020*
Summer
11.13
13.39
/
0.670
0.036
Fall
8.27
10.28
/
0.100
Winter
1.60
3.58
/
SEPL
Spring
10.50
13.18
/
0.567
0.136
0.006*
Summer
5.47
5.50
/
0.508
0.035*
Fall
4.00
3.74
/
0.027
Winter
0.00
000
/

53
Table 3-8. Seasonal abundance of individual shorebird species along 5-km of
beach on Cape San Bias, Florida, from June 1998 through August 2000. P-values
represent results of t-tests (*) or Mann-Whitney Rank Sum tests. WILL = willet,
DUNL = dunlin
Mean
Standard
Deviation
Spring
p-value
Summer
p-value
Fall
p-value
Winter
p-value
WILL
Spring
8.86
5.79
/
0.230
0.230
0.938
Summer
24.47
17.42
/
0.864*
0.059
Fall
23.46
14.05
/
0.059*
Winter
9.20
9.09
/
DUNL
Spring
48.00
61.67
/
<0.001
0.002
0.171
Summer
0.23
0.90
/
0.320
0.207
Fall
1.27
2.53
/
0.567
Winter
105.80
233.79
/

54
Table 3-9. Abundance of individual shorebird species along each 1.3-km stretch of beach
(West, Cape, East) and the Lagoon along Cape San Bias, Florida, from June 1998 and
August 2000. P-values represent results of Mann-Whitney Rank Sum tests. These species
were most abundant along east beach. BBPL = black-bellied plover, PEPL= piping plover,
RUTU - ruddy turnstone, SAND = sanderling, SNPL = snowy plover, WELL = willet
mean
standard
deviation
West
p-value
Cape
p-value
East
p-value
Lagoon
p-value
BBPL
West
0.44
0.84
/
0.120
<0.001
<0.001
Cape
1.23
2.58
/
0.031
0.366
East
2.50
2.82
/
0.204
Lagoon
1.67
2.26
/
PIPL
West
0.00
0.00
/
0.035
<0.001
0.006
Cape
0.41
1.52
/
0.005
0.406
East
2.19
3.01
/
0.074
Lagoon
1.62
4.20
/
RUTU
West
0.20
0.68
/
<0.001
<0.001
<0.001
Cape
2.90
4.00
/
0.904
0.223
East
4.48
7.31
/
0.229
Lagoon
2.41
3.54
/
SAND
West
2.91
3.81
/
<0.001
<0.001
0.398
Cape
7.50
7.72
/
0.020
0.063
East
16.00
17.34
/
0.004
Lagoon
8.23
15.25
/
SNPL
West
0.00
0.00
/
0.006
<0.001
0.003
Cape
0.56
0.89
/
<0.001
0.627
East
2.30
2.00
/
<0.001
Lagoon
1.03
1.87
/
WILL
West
2.93
3.23
/
0.105
<0.001
0.151
Cape
4.46
5.42
/
0.025
0.865
East
8.07
7.45
/
0.038
Lagoon
5.72
9.96
/

55
Table 3-10. Abundance of individual shorebird species along each 1.3-km stretch of
beach (West, Cape, East) and the lagoon along Cape San Bias, Florida, from 1998
through 2000. P-values represent the results of Mann-Whitney Rank Sum tests. These
four species were most abundant along the lagoon. DUNL = dunlin, PEEP =
sandpipers, SEPL = semipalmated plovers, WIPL = Wilson’s plovers
Mean
Standard
Deviation
West
p-value
Cape
p-value
East
p-value
Lagoon
p-value
DUNL
West
0.17
1.23
/
0.496
0.410
0.018
Cape
1.05
4.67
/
0.922
0.104
East
3.07
18.41
/
0.106
Lagoon
18.31
68.59
/
PEEP
West
0.11
0.82
/
0.050
0.014
<0.001
Cape
1.51
7.25
/
0.842
0.002
East
1.11
2.65
/
<0.001
Lagoon
9.36
13.50
/
SEPL
West
0.15
0.60
/
0.010
0.324
<0.001
Cape
1.08
2.74
/
0.097
0.077
East
0.50
1.41
/
0.001
Lagoon
4.10
7.69
/
WIPL
West
0.00
0.00
/
0.058
0.245
<0.001
Cape
0.64
1.33
/
0.382
0.069
East
0.26
0.78
/
0.003
Lagoon
1.05
1.49
/

56
species were most abundant along the lagoon (Table 3-10). All species exhibited their
lowest abundance along west beach.
Persistence and stability
The degree of concordance was consistent among years from 1994 to 2000, with
100% of the correlations significant at p < 0.05 (Table 3-11). Correlations were all
positive and ranged from 0.79 to 0.91. Results of the rank correlations were supported by
results of the Morista’s similarity index, which ranged from 0.55 to 0.92.
The persistence of shorebirds was relatively high among years (mean = 83.1%,
range = 66.7% to 100%; Table 3-12). Thus, on average only 17% of shorebird species
observed at time one on Cape San Bias were absent from this area at time two. Although
major hurricanes (Opal, Earl, Georges) affected this area in October 1995 and September
1998, persistence after these events was high (comparisons between 1998 and subsequent
years). Lowest persistence occurred between comparisons of 1994/1995 to 1998/1999
Table 3-11. Results of the Spearman Rank correlations and Morista’s Index of similarity,
indicating a high degree of concordance among years in the shorebird community on Cape
San Bias, Florida.
Spearman Rank
1994
1995
1998
1999
2000
1994
\
0.90
0.82
0.79
0.81
1995
\
0.83
0.87
0.88
1998
\
0.91
0.91
1999
\
0.86
2000
Morista’s Index
1994
1995
1998
1999
2000
1994
\
0.92
0.80
0.67
0.55
1995
\
0.75
0.70
0.57
1998
\
0.86
0.71
1999
\
0.82
2000
\

57
Table 3-12. Persistence of the shorebird community along Cape San Bias, Florida,
defined as a percentage of the population observed in year one that is also observed in
year two.
1994
1995
1998
1999
2000
1994
\
100.0
72.2
77.8
83.3
1995
\
66.7
76.2
81.0
1998
\
92.9
92.9
1999
\
87.5
2000
\
Invertebrate abundance and distribution
Samples for intertidal invertebrates were collected on 21 days between December
1998 and August 2000. Ten families were represented in the species collected: five from
the class Polychaeta representing marine worms, four from the class Malacostraca
containing the amphipods, mole crabs, and commensal crabs, and one from the class
Bivalvia including marine clams. From all samples, 7888 individuals were identified. Of
these, 49% (3858) were amphipods, 36% (2839) were bivalves, 11% (844) were worms,
4% (300) were mole crabs, and 0.06% (5) were commensal crabs.
In addition, samples were collected at five sites along the lagoon once in July
1999. Forty invertebrates were collected and of those 63% (25) were polychaete worms.
The remaining were adult or larval insects. Of the polychaete worms, 19 (75%) were
Scololepsis squamata, one was Glycera sp., and five were unidentified species. None of
the insects was identified to family.
The greatest amount of diversity per class was documented in the marine worms,
in which individuals from Lumbrineridae, Orbiniidae, Spionidae, Maldanidae, and
Nephytidae were recorded. The majority (89.1%) of worms in all seasons and across all
locations was Scololepsis squamata of the family Spionidae. The Orbiniidae represented

58
7.7% of all worms collected and the Lumbrinaridae comprised 2.9%. Two individuals
(0.24%) each of the Nephytidae and Maldanidae were documented.
The class Malacostraca was represented by four families, including Haustoriidea,
Albuneidae, Hippidae, and Pinnotheridae. All amphipods collected were from the
Haustoriidae family. The majority (83.4%) was of the genus Parahaustoris, the
remaining belonged to the genus Haustoris. Mole crabs belonged to two families. Most
(95.0%) -were Emérita talpoida in the Hippidae family, and the remaining consisted of
Lepidopa websteri from the Albuneidae family. The few commensal crabs collected
belonged to the Pinnotheridae family and consisted entirely of the oyster pea crab
{Pinnotheres ostreum). The class Bivalvia was represented by only one family
(Donacidae), which contains the coquina clam {Donax variabilis).
Slightly more invertebrates were collected along east beach than west beach;
however the difference was not statistically significant (Table 3-13). There were
significantly more polychaete worms along east beach than west beach (T = 342.00, p <
0.01). This also allowed worms the greatest percentage of the assemblage along east
beach, where they represented 14.0% of the individuals collected, than along west beach,
where they comprised 6.7% of all individuals. More worm families were represented on
east beach where individuals from five families were collected, than on west
beach where individuals from only three families (Spionidae, Orbiniidae, and
Lumbrinaridae) were documented, although these comparisons were not statistically
significant. More coquina clams were also collected along east beach than west beach;
however, this species represented an equal proportion of the assemblage at each location.

59
Table 3-13. The total number of intertidal invertebrates collected
during 20 sampling events along West and East beaches of Cape
San Bias, Florida, from December 1998 through August 2000.
West
East
Total
Polychaete worms
Spionidae
207
545
752
Lumbrineridae
1
23
24
Orbinidae
23
41
64
Maldanidae
0
2
2
Nephytidae
0
2
2
Amphipods
Haustoridae
1995
1863
3858
Mole Crabs
Albunidae
8
7
15
Hippidae
131
154
285
Bivalve clams
Pinnotheridae
1087
1752
2839
TOTAL
3452
4389
7841
Although they were abundant along both beaches, amphipods represented a larger
percentage of the assemblage along west beach, representing 57.8% of all individuals
collected, than along east beach where they represented 42.5% of all individuals.
Diversity of amphipod families was similar between both locations. The abundance and
diversity of mole crabs and commensal crabs was similar between east and west beaches.
There was no significant seasonality in total number of invertebrates collected
along both beaches, however along west beach, the largest number was collected in
spring (Table 3-14). Along east beach, seasonality in abundance was only observed in
mole crabs (Fig. 3-5; Table 3-15), which were least abundant in spring than any other
season. Along west beach, significant differences in the abundance of polychaete worms
and coquina clams among seasons were observed, with greatest numbers of both recorded
in spring (Fig. 3-6; Table 3-16). Mole crabs were more abundant along west beach in fall
than in spring or summer.

Table 3-14. Average numbers of intertidal invertebrates per season from 20 samples collected along West
and East beaches of Cape San Bias, Florida, from December 1998 through August 2000.
West
East
spring
summer
fall
winter
spring
summer
fall
winter
worms
23.67
3.86
0.17
0.60
35.14
14.09
6.50
4.50
amphipods
82.17
49.32
28.00
49.80
54.29
44.18
45.00
60.25
mole crabs
1.17
3.05
8.00
3.40
0.71
5.23
4.50
3.50
clams
109.50
17.00
4.83
5.40
30.57
55.91
27.17
36.25
TOTAL
216.50
73.23
41.00
59.20
120.71
119.59
83.33
104.50

61
Tides
Tidal information was gathered off west beach for 54 days in 1998 and 9 days in
1999, and off east beach for five days in 2000. Tidal patterns collected from water
monitors off both beaches were nearly identical to those provided by the National
Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (Fig. 3-7). The diurnal tidal pattern
observed off Cape San Bias was synchronous between west and east beaches.
There was no difference in the total number of shorebirds observed during a rising
or falling tide throughout the entire study site (p > 0.05). Individual shorebird species
were observed equally during a rising or falling tide. Along west beach, east beach, and
the lagoon, the total number of shorebirds and the total number of each shorebird species
did not differ throughout the tidal cycle. Along cape beach, however, more shorebirds
were observed on a rising tide than on a falling tide, and this pattern was also observed in
sanderlings (t = -2.08, df = 35, p = 0.045) and ruddy tumstones (T = 413.5, p = 0.031).
There was no difference in the total number of invertebrates collected throughout the
study site on a rising or falling tide. Along east beach, all invertebrate species were as
equally abundant on a rising tide as on a falling tide. On west beach, however, mole
crabs were more abundant during a rising tide than on a falling tide(T = 34.5, p = 0.039).
All other invertebrate species were equally abundant throughout the tidal cycle along
west beach.
Winds
Wind direction was gathered every day from May 1998 through August 2000 (see
Table 2-2). During the fall and winter, the wind blew primarily from the north and east.

70 -
60 -
â–  spring
50 -
W¡ summer
II fall
40 -
â–¡ winter
30 -
20 -
10 -
mole crab worm amphipod mollusk
Figure 3-5. Seasonal abundance of invertebrates along the east beach
of Cape San Bias, Florida from June 1998 through August 2000.
120
100 -
80 -
60 -
40
20 H
0
I spring
U fall
â–¡ winter
L
mole crab
worms amphipods mollusk
Figure 3-6. Seasonal abundance of invertebrates along the west beach
of Cape San Bias, Florida, from June 1998 through August 2000.

63
Table 3-15. Seasonal abundance of intertidal invertebrates along the east beach of
Cape San Bias, Florida, from December 1998 through August 2000. P-values represent
results of t-tests (*) or Mann-Whitney Rank Sum tests.
Mean
Standard
Deviation
Spring
p-value
Summer
p-value
Fall
p-value
Winter
p-value
Mole crabs
Spring
0.71
0.76
\
0.030
0.001*
0.042
Summer
5.23
6.15
\
0.433
0.943
Fall
4.50
2.26
\
0.520*
Winter
3.50
2.38
\
Worms
Spring
35.14
44.67
\
0.445
0.138
0.215*
Summer
14.09
15.34
\
0.255*
0.235*
Fall
6.50
7.23
\
0.652*
Winter
4.50
5.45
\
Amphipods
Spring
54.29
49.34
\
0.665
0.716*
0.851*
Summer
45.00
38.46
\
0.801
0.521*
Fall
44.18
44.87
\
0.595*
Winter
60.25
48.94
\
Molluscs
Spring
30.57
31.79
\
0.799
0.828*
0.836*
Summer
55.91
86.35
\
0.889
0.619
Fall
27.17
21.06
\
0.610
Winter
36.25
58.54
\

64
Table 3-16. Seasonal abundance of invertebrates along the west beach of Cape San Bias,
Florida, from December 1998 through August 2000. P-values represent results of t-tests
(*) or Mann-Whitney Rank Sum tests.
Mean
Standard
Deviation
Spring
p-value
Summer
p-value
Fall
p-value
Winter
p-value
Mole crabs
Spring
1.17
0.75
\
0.207
0.041
0.429
Summer
3.05
3.30
\
0.073
1.000
Fall
8.00
7.62
\
0.247
Winter
3.40
4.39
\
Worms
Spring
23.67
35.64
\
0.082
0.015
0.030
Summer
3.86
7.45
\
0.152
0.511
Fall
0.17
0.41
\
0.537
Winter
0.60
0.89
\
amphipods
Spring
82.17
66.70
\
0.275*
0.113*
0.383*
Summer
49.32
63.28
\
0.595
0.708
Fall
28.00
37.42
\
0.429
Winter
49.80
45.53
\
Molluscs
Spring
109.50
157.95
\
0.053
0.004
0.030
Summer
17.00
21.38
\
0.038
0.289
Fall
4.83
5.12
\
0.848*
Winter
5.40
4.22
\

Water level (m) above mean sea level
0.6
-0.6
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
O
o
o
o
O
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
in
o
in
o
in
o
m
o
in
o
in
o
in
o
o
1—H
m
o
I—1
m
o
T-H
m
o
m
(N
oo
r—H
o
m
m
On
r—H
(N
oo
1—1
Time (HHMMSS)
Figure 3-7. Tidal patterns off Cape San Bias, Florida and those recorded by the National Oceanographic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the same area from July 6 - 19, 1998.

66
(N, NE, E), whereas during the spring and summer it blew mainly from the south and
west (S, SW, W)
Currents
Current speed and direction was observed on 13 days from April 2000 through
August 2000. Along east and west beach, there was a positive relationship between wind
and current direction (east z = -3.76, p < 0.001, west z = -2.34, p = 0.019; see Fig. 2-7).
Results of oceanographic observations also demonstrated this relationship. Observations
were collected for 57 days from April through August 2000. Along west beach, the
current traveled west on 21 (36.8%) days and east on 36 (63.2%) days. When the wind
blew primarily from the NE, E, SE or S, the current flow was primarily towards the west
(85.7%), and when it blew from the SW, W, NW or N, the current traveled east most
often (81%). Along east beach, the current traveled west on 14 (25.4%) days and east on
41 (74.6%) days. When the wind blew from the N, NE, E, or SE or from the NW, W,
SW, or S, the current flowed west (50%) as often as it traveled east (50%). However,
when the wind blew primarily from the NW, W, SW, or S, the current traveled east
(80.5%).
Topography
From September 1998 to August 2000, west beach lost 4.95 m of sand along the
entire profile (see Fig. 2-8). Individual points along the profile differed; the greatest loss
(-1.17 m) occurred 30 m from the benchmark whereas the first 15 m of the profile gained
0.16 m. During this period, east beach gained 3.78 m of sand along the entire profile (see
Fig. 2-9). The greatest gain (0.61 m) occurred 35 m from the benchmark, while the
greatest loss (-0.18 m) was documented 45 m from the benchmark. There was a

67
significant relationship between wind direction and sand movement. On both beaches,
accretion occurred more often when the wind blew from the east than when it blew from
the west, whereas erosion occurred more often during winds from the west than those
from the east (east z = -2.03, p = 0.042; west z = -2.50 p = 0.012; see Fig. 2-10). There
was no seasonal variation in sand movement.
Discussion
Cape San Bias is a dynamic system. Winds drive oceanographic currents that
transfer sand throughout the system (see Chapter 2), and although this results in an
extremely unstable substrate, Cape San Bias continues to support successful foraging by
shorebirds. Abundance and species diversity of shorebirds observed during this study
were similar to those recorded along Cape San Bias from 1994 to 1997 (Lamont et al.
1997). This constancy in numbers reflects the persistence and stability of this shorebird
community.
The slight decrease in abundance between 1994-1997 (119.1/one-kilometer
survey) and 1998-2000 (114.6/five-kilometer survey) and in correlation and persistence
values for 1998 and 1999 most likely reflect a loss of habitat due to Hurricanes Earl and
Georges in September 1998. These storms caused severe erosion on Cape San Bias that
removed sand from the cape spit and resulted in destruction of lagoon # 2. This may
have provided less space for foraging shorebirds thereby reducing the numbers of birds
using this area. When Hurricane Elena caused destruction along Dauphin Island,
Alabama in 1985, piping plovers moved to nearby Sand Island and continued to use that
location even after Dauphin Island was restored (Nicholls and Baldassarre 1990). Results
of Morista’s Index support this idea. Results of this index decreased with time, with

68
1994 being most similar to 1995 and least similar to 2000. This trend was not observed,
however, in Spearman Rank Correlations. It has been suggested that Morista’s Index is
sensitive to changes in abundance of common species (Wolda 1981). In 1994, 1995, and
1998, prior to destruction of lagoon #2 along Cape San Bias, dunlin represented a mean
29% of the shorebird community in this area. In 1999 and 2000, however, after
Hurricanes Earl and Georges, dunlin represented a mean 14% of the community. This
decrease in number of dunlin may have been caused by a loss of habitat and was most
likely reflected in the results of Morista’s Index. The loss of lagoon #2 resulted in a
decrease in numbers of dunlin and was reflected in the overall abundance, stability, and
persistence of the shorebird community along Cape San Bias.
In most coastal systems, tidal patterns are often the environmental force that has
the greatest influence on shorebird distribution (Burger et al. 1977); however this aspect
of barrier island dynamics appeared to have little effect on invertebrate or shorebird
abundance during this study. This may be due to the small tidal range that occurs along
Cape San Bias. In many areas where a relationship between shorebird foraging and tidal
cycle has been observed, tidal patterns were typically semidiurnal with ranges between
high and low tide greater than one meter (Burger et al. 1977, Connors et al. 1981). Along
Cape San Bias, tidal patterns are diurnal and maximum tidal ranges are less than one
meter (Gorsline 1966). During this study, the difference between mean high tide and
mean low tide was 0.3 m. Perhaps the negligible difference between high and low tide
along Cape San Bias had little effect on invertebrate activity thereby reducing tidal
influence on shorebird distribution.

69
The only species influenced by tidal patterns during this study were sanderlings
and ruddy turnstones. The distribution of sanderlings is frequently and greatly tidal
dependent (Evans 1976, Burger et al. 1977, Connors et al. 1981). Sanderlings have
physical adaptations that permit successful exploitation of beach resources. Their short,
stout bill and lack of a hind toe may interfere with their use of other foraging habitats
such as mud flats or protected harbors, even if those sites have greater invertebrate
abundance (Connors et al. 1981). When invertebrate resources along the beach are high,
sanderlings are able to capitalize on available prey; however when the tide changes and
invertebrates become less accessible, sanderlings move to a more profitable habitat
(Burger et al. 1977, Connors et al. 1981). Because other species lacking the physical
characteristics of sanderlings, such as willets, black-bellied plovers, or dunlin, are not as
dependent on intertidal foraging habitat they may not be influenced by tidal patterns
(Connors et al. 1981).
The foraging strategies of ruddy turnstones may make them more susceptible to
tidal influence. These birds often forage by flipping over rocks and pecking within the
beach wrack (Colwell and Landrum 1993). Rising tides may bring insect larvae, crabs,
or bivalves into the wrack system thereby providing prey for ruddy turnstones, and when
tides fall, prey may be less available. When tides were falling, turnstones foraging along
the cape beach may have moved to the lagoon.
Although shorebirds foraging along east and west beach were not influenced by
tidal patterns, those foraging along the cape beach were affected. This may be due to the
proximity and accessibility of the lagoon to cape beach. Perhaps when tides change and
intertidal invertebrates become less active, shorebirds along the cape beach move to the

70
lagoon, which is unaffected by tides. On east and west beach however, because of the
slightly greater distance to the lagoon, it may be advantageous for birds to continue
foraging along the beach rather than move to the lagoon.
Although shorebird distribution was not greatly influenced by tidal patterns
during this study, it was affected by other aspects of barrier island dynamics particularly
wave energy and sand movement. During this study, more shorebirds were observed
along the accreting beach (east) than on the eroding beach (west). A slightly higher
number of invertebrates (56%) were collected along east beach than west beach, and the
invertebrate community was more diverse in this area than along west beach. In general,
within invertebrate communities, species density, diversity, and richness increase as
exposure to wave action decreases (Brown and McLachlan 1990, Dexter 1992). This was
observed along Cape San Bias during this study. Although similar numbers of
amphipods and mole crabs were located in each area, more polychaete worms and
bivalve clams were collected along east beach. Amphipods and mole crabs are
burrowing species with physical characteristics that permit foraging in rough water and
enable them to retain their place within the moving substrate (Croker et al. 1975, Leber
1982). Polychaete worms and coquina clams must extend foraging structures above the
sand surface to feed, which does not allow them to burrow deep within the sediment
(Leber 1982, Knott et al. 1983). The erosion that occurs along west beach does not create
greater diversity of the invertebrate community, like that observed along Telok Aling
beach, Malaysia after a tropical storm (Ong and Krishnan 1995). The erosion that occurs
along west beach is a constant force, whereas the habitat disruption that occurred in
Malaysia was a single event. Along Cape San Bias, the consistently rough waters and

71
offshore sand movement off west beach appeared to have limited the diversity of
invertebrate fauna able to survive in this area, whereas the calmer waters and onshore
sand movement along east beach permitted increased diversity.
Differences in the diversity of prey available to shorebirds along east and west
beach have influenced the diversity of shorebirds foraging in each location. Many of the
shorebird species absent from west beach but present on east beach (snowy plovers,
piping plovers, and peeps) are visual foragers. Amphipods and mole crabs, which were
abundant along west beach, do not extend reproductive or foraging structures above the
sand surface, which makes them more difficult to locate for visual foragers (Baker 1974,
Hockey et al. 1999). Therefore, the decrease in diversity of prey species may have
reduced the abundance and diversity of shorebird species using west beach.
In addition to greater prey diversity along east beach, there is also more habitat
and greater diversity in the habitat along this beach. Throughout this study the mean
distance from the dunes to the waterline along east beach was 83 m whereas along west
beach the mean was 28 m. The habitat along each profile also differs. East beach
contains a primary and secondary dune system, and a wide, flat beach face separated into
three regions: a shelly area, an area of soft loose sand, and a harder-packed, sloping tidal
region (Lamont et al. 1997). Along west beach there is little or no dune system.
Flatwoods and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) vegetation border the beach and the pines
(Pinus spp.) are often uprooted by erosion and felled onto the beach (Lamont et al. 1997).
Although the intertidal region is important to most shorebird species, additional habitat is
also necessary for some species. In high winds or low temperatures, visual foragers, such
as plovers (Charadrius spp.), may feed near the dunes on insects or seeds (Pienkowski

72
1981, Skagen and Oman 1996), or they may not feed at all but take refuge behind sandy
clumps of dune vegetation (Pienkowski 1981). The east beach of Cape San Bias provides
these additional habitats, which, along with increased invertebrate abundance, may result
in greater numbers of shorebirds in this region than along the eroding, west beach.
Seasonal peaks in shorebird abundance often relate to increases in abundance of
intertidal invertebrates; however this relationship was not observed during this study
(Withers and Chapman 1993). The greatest abundance of shorebirds along east and west
beach was observed in fall; however invertebrates were equally abundant throughout the
year on east beach, and along west beach the greatest number was collected in spring.
This increase in total abundance of invertebrates along west beach during spring reflects
changes in numbers of polychaete worms and coquina clams, which was not observed
along east beach and is most likely caused by alterations in reproductive timing. The
most abundant species of polychaete worm collected during this study was Scololepsis
squamata. Along a protected beach in Barbados, Richards (1970) reported four spawning
events for Scololepsis squamata with each event separated by two months. However, on
an exposed beach along the same island, Scololepsis squamata spawned only once
throughout the year. Calm waters off east beach may have allowed year round spawning
by Scololepsis squamata, whereas the rough waters off west beach may have limited
spawning of this species to spring.
Reproduction in coquina clams may have also been influenced by water
turbulence. Along Panama City Beach, Florida, in an area that exhibits accretion,
Saloman and Naughton (1978) found no variability in abundance of coquina throughout
the year, indicating these species spawn year-round (Tanner 1964). Along the Atlantic

73
coast, however, where wave energy is greater, it has been suggested that coquina clams
spawn only in winter (Knott et al. 1983, Ruppert and Fox 1988). Perhaps due to the
calmer waters off east beach, coquina clams were able to spawn year-round, whereas in
the rougher waters off west beach they were able to spawn only in winter. Therefore, the
rough waters off west beach may have limited spawning of polychaete worms and
coquina clams to only once per year, resulting in seasonal peaks in abundance, whereas
the calm waters off east permitted year-round spawning and consistent abundance.
Although numbers of worms and coquina clams along west beach increased in
spring, this did not correlate with an increase in shorebird abundance during this time.
Variations in prey abundance during fall and spring migration of shorebirds most likely
influenced this relationship. During times of food limitation, species will withdraw into
their exclusive niche or portion of the environment in which they exploit certain
resources more efficiently than other species (Baker and Baker 1973). Because there was
no increase in available resources during fall, only those shorebird species best adapted to
this habitat were able to utilize these resources during fall migration. The increase in
abundance of shorebirds during fall may have reflected an increase in the number of
common species, such as sanderlings, willets, and black-bellied plovers during this time.
These species are year-round inhabitants of this area and may be best suited for this
habitat and prey type. Large flocks of these species resulted in an increase in overall
abundance for this region.
Abundance of shorebirds in spring may have been limited also because of
competition among shorebirds due to an increase in species diversity during this season.
The additional species most likely stopped along Cape San Bias during spring migration

74
to take advantage of the prey increase that occurred along west beach, and may have used
different foraging areas in fall. It has been suggested that some shorebird species, such as
lesser-golden plovers (Pluvialis dominica) and white-rumped sandpipers (Calidris
fuscicollis) migrate in elliptical routes, traveling south via the Atlantic coast and north
through coastal Texas and the Plains states (Cooke 1910, Myers et al. 1990).
Competition with these additional species may have limited numbers of common species,
such as sanderlings, black-bellied plovers, and willets thereby reducing overall
abundance.
Although there were often large differences in abundance of invertebrates and
shorebirds among locations and seasons during this study, not all of these comparisons
were statistically significant. These non-significant results were most likely affected by
the large standard deviations associated with invertebrate and shorebird samples. This
amount of variation probably reflects the tendency of invertebrates and shorebirds to
clump within the habitat, and also the limitations of sampling these species. Many
invertebrate species, such as coquina clams and Corophium amphipods, are often found
in dense aggregations (Abbott 1974, Knott et al. 1983, Gourbault and Warwick 1994),
and in many studies the range between maximum and minimum numbers collected
during one sampling event is often large (Croker et al. 1975, Saloman and Naughton
1978, Wilson and Parker 1996). Shorebirds may also be observed in large aggregations,
especially during migration. During this study, dunlin were observed during 18 surveys
and four of those observations were of flocks containing at least 100 birds. Along Oso
Bay, Texas, large flocks of peep caused abnormally low diversity values during certain
survey periods (Withers and Chapman 1993) and within the Mad River Estuary,

75
California, 10 of 11 species observed exhibited non-random, clumped distributions
(Colwell and Landrum 1993).
The clumped distributions of invertebrates and shorebirds require large sample
sizes to reduce sampling variation. During this study, sampling for invertebrates and
shorebirds was limited to once per month throughout the winter. Although multiple
samples were collected along each transect to increase coverage, fewer sampling dates
increased chances that invertebrates clumps were missed. In addition, these monthly
surveys may have missed large flocks of birds that stopped along Cape San Bias for less
than one month. To reduce sampling variation and perhaps increase statistical
significance, sampling should occur at least once per week throughout the year.
In addition to limited sampling dates that may have affected variation in overall
abundance values, sampling methods may have also affected abundance estimates of
certain invertebrate species. Small numbers of mole crabs were recorded during this
study; however this was most likely the result of sampling strategy rather than a true
representation of the abundance of these species along Cape San Bias. Mole crabs are
rapid burrowers (Ruppert and Fox 1988), and although the size of sampling cores used in
this study was typical for sampling smaller, less active invertebrate species (Croker et al.
1975, Yates et al. 1993, Peterson et al. 2000), it was most likely not adequate for
collecting large numbers of mole crabs. In many studies where abundance of mole crabs
was investigated, box cores or shovels were used to dig large areas rapidly (Howard and
Dorjes 1972, Saloman and Naughton 1978, Leber 1982, Knott et al. 1983). The goal of
this research was to assess changes in numbers and distribution of species over time, not

76
to determine abundance. Consistent sampling effort throughout the study allowed these
objectives to be met.
Along this barrier island, as with most habitats, spatial distribution, diversity, and
abundance of foraging shorebirds are determined by the distribution and diversity of
prey. In this dynamic environment, however spatial distribution of those prey is
influenced more by wave energy and sand movement than by tidal patterns. Temporally,
these dynamics affect reproductive timing of invertebrate species, which determines
seasonal changes in diversity and abundance of shorebirds. Although the habitat these
foraging shorebirds rely on is constantly moving, this community has remained stable.
Severe disturbances, such as tropical storms, that destroy habitat may cause fluctuations
in abundance and diversity. However, it appears shorebird communities inhabiting these
dynamic environments will respond and persist.

CHAPTER 4
THE INFLUENCE OF BARRIER ISLAND DYNAMICS ON NESTING
LOGGERHEAD TURTLES
Introduction
Female loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) nest every one to three years, and
from one to six times within each reproductive season (Miller 1997). It has been
suggested that they return to their natal beach to nest, and that once a female has returned
to the region of her birth she will tend to renest in close proximity on subsequent nesting
events (Carr and Hirth 1962, Carr and Carr 1972, Carr et al. 1974, Talbert et al. 1980,
Williams-Walls et al. 1983). Changes in the morphology of a nesting beach due to ocean
currents, winds, and tides may present challenges to turtles attempting to return to their
nesting beach. Effects of these forces on nest site selection by loggerhead turtles are
largely unknown.
During nesting migration, female turtles leave their foraging grounds, travel to
mating areas where reproduction occurs, and then move to nesting beaches (Limpus
1983, Parmenter 1983, Limpus et al. 1993, Miller 1997). After depositing their first nest
of the season, loggerhead turtles return to the water for 12-14 days before returning to
nest again (Miller 1997). When returning to nest, loggerhead turtles must first select a
beach, then emerge from the water, and finally place the clutch within that beach (Wood
and Bjorndal 2000). Beach characteristics such as temperature, salinity, slope, moisture,
width, and sand type have been shown to influence nest placement within the beach
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(Johannes and Rimmer 1984, Garmestani et al. 2000, Wood and Bjomdal 2000). These
factors may allow turtles to expend less energy locating nesting sites that will provide the
greatest reproductive success. Along dynamic beaches, these factors are constantly
changing, which may reduce a turtle’s ability to identify high-quality nesting sites.
In addition to a reduction in environmental cues, turtles nesting along dynamic
beaches must cope with oceanographic forces that create unstable habitat. Winds,
currents, waves, and tides may influence internesting movements and nest site selection.
Loggerhead turtles have been observed within the Kuroshio current off Japan during the
internesting period (Sakamoto et al. 1993) and in Barbados, hawksbill turtles
(Eretmochyles imbricata) nest more often along protected beaches than exposed beaches
(Horrocks and Scott 1991). In some areas on the east coast of Florida and along the
Australian coast, deposition of loggerhead turtle nests was found to occur more
frequently at high tide rather than low tide (Bustard 1973, Fritts and Hoffman 1982,
Frazer 1983a). Although turtles nesting along changing coasts may be less able to use
environmental cues to identify appropriate nesting sites, they may use oceanographic
cues to help reduce energy expenditure and increase reproductive success.
Barrier island beaches typically undergo severe erosion and accretion throughout
the year; however, these habitats are also often used by nesting loggerhead turtles. Along
the eastern coast of the United States, loggerhead turtles nest on several barrier islands,
including Topsail Island, North Carolina (Grant and Beasley 1998), Kiawah Island, South
Carolina (Talbert et al. 1980), Little Cumberland Island, Georgia (Frazer 1983b), and
Hutchinson Island, Florida (Williams-Walls et al. 1983). Barrier islands form almost half
the Gulf of Mexico shoreline, and loggerhead turtles commonly nest in this region

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(LaRoe 1976, LeBuff 1990). The dynamic habitat along these barrier islands may
provide significant challenges for loggerhead turtles nesting in these areas.
Genetic studies have indicated loggerhead turtles nesting along the northern Gulf
of Mexico represent a unique stock (Encalada et al. 1998). The greatest density of
loggerhead turtle nesting in this region occurs along 5-km of beach owned by the US Air
Force on Cape San Bias, Florida. This barrier beach is located along the Florida
panhandle and represents the southernmost point of the St. Joseph Peninsula (see Fig. 2-
1). From 1993 to 1997 this area recorded 9.5 loggerhead turtle nests per kilometer
(Meylan et al. 1995, Lamont et al. 1997). No other species of sea turtle has been
documented nesting on this property.
Cape San Bias supports a significant group of nesting turtles; however, it is also
extremely dynamic (see Chapter 2). The eastern beach of Cape San Bias undergoes
accretion, whereas the western coast experiences some of the greatest erosional rates in
Florida. From June 1994 to September 1995, approximately 10 m of sediment was
eroded from west beach (Lamont et al. 1997). Although west beach is less stable than
east beach, sea turtles using Cape San Bias tend to nest along the eroding rather than the
accreting beach. From 1994 through 1997, at least 60% of nests deposited on Cape San
Bias were laid on west beach (Lamont et al. 1997). How the dynamics of this
environment influence nesting activity of loggerhead turtles is unknown.
To determine how nesting sea turtles have responded to this dynamic
environment, we defined the following goals: assess, 1. dynamics of Cape San Bias,
including wind, currents, and tidal patterns, and changes in beach profiles, 2. sea turtle
nesting patterns, and 3. success of nests deposited along Cape San Bias.

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Methods
Sea turtle surveys and reproductive success
Daily morning surveys for sea turtle nests were conducted from May 15 through
September 15 in 1998, 1999, and 2000. Nests were observed for hatching, and nest
excavations to evaluate success were conducted from mid-July to October 31. In
addition, night surveys were conducted from approximately 2100 to 0600 every night
during the nesting season (May 15 to August 10). When a nesting turtle was located, she
was identified to species, her curved carapace length and width were measured, and her
location was recorded. To allow individual identification, Inconel flipper tags were
placed in both front flippers. Nests laid below mean high water were relocated landward
or to a more stable location. For analysis, sea turtle nests laid west of the cape spit
(between mile markers 1.4 an 2.9) were categorized as being laid on west beach and
those deposited east of the cape spit (between mile markers 0.0 and 1.4) were categorized
as being laid on east beach (see Fig. 2-3). For correlations with tidal height, time of
emergence or time first observed was used rather than time of egg deposition.
Success was defined as the number of hatchlings that emerged from the nest
divided by the total number of eggs deposited in the nest and was termed hatchling
emergence success following Johnson et al. (1996). These calculations included nests
lost to erosion or depredation, but not those that were relocated, which involved 15 (26%)
nests in 1998, 10 (13%) in 1999, and 15 (24%) in 2000. The total number of eggs in the
nest was assessed during nest excavation and was determined by adding the number of
hatched eggs (all eggshells representing greater than 50% of a whole egg), unhatched
eggs, and pipped eggs. To calculate the number of hatchlings that emerged from the nest,

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the number of dead hatchlings found within the nest was subtracted from the total number
of hatched eggs.
A Student’s t-test in SigmaStat 2.0 (Jandel Corporation 1995) was used to test for
significant differences in the number of nests laid between locations (Zar 1984). A
Student’s t-test or non-parametric Mann-Whitney test in SigmaStat 2.0 was used to test
for significant differences in hatchling emergence success and number of nests lost to
erosion between east and west beaches (Zar 1984).
Tides
Tidal patterns off the eastern and northern beaches of Cape San Bias were
recorded using a Hydrolab DataSonde 3 data logger. Off east beach, this equipment was
strapped to a steel screw-anchor that was placed in the seabed approximately 50 m
offshore. Off west beach, the water monitor was strapped to a wooden piling
approximately 75 m offshore. In each location, the monitor was programmed to record
water level, salinity, and temperature every 15 minutes. In 1998, the logger was placed
off west beach from June 21 to June 29, July 6 to July 19, and July 19 to August 16. In
1999, it recorded off west beach from June 18 to June 27. In 2000, the monitor was
placed off east beach from June 20 to June 23 and from August 6 to August 8. After
deployment, the monitor was retrieved and the information was transferred to an Excel
spreadsheet and plotted to display changes over time. Tidal heights gathered from the
water monitor were then compared to the historical heights published by the National
Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Tidal heights from Pensacola
Bay, Pensacola, Florida were retrieved from NOAA. Times were altered to adjust for the
approximately 400-km difference between Cape San Bias and Pensacola. Times for

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falling tides were reduced by 51 minutes and for rising tides by 24 minutes. Tidal heights
were multiplied by the 1.1 correction factor suggested by NOAA to adjust for geographic
location. Tidal patterns from NOAA were graphed against those recorded by the water
monitor.
Winds
Wind patterns along Cape San Bias were assessed using data gathered by a
National Weather Service C-Man station located at mile-marker 2.2 on Cape San Bias.
Data available from the weather station included date, time, speed of wind gusts,
barometric and atmospheric pressure, dew point, wind direction, and wind speed. For
analysis, wind directions were divided into eight categories of 45 degrees each: north,
northeast, east, southeast, south, southwest, west, and northwest.
Currents
During the 2000 summer season, buoys were deployed weekly at the four FWCC
benchmarks to determine nearshore current patterns and velocities. Buoys consisted of
frozen grapefruit. Grapefruits were launched from the water’s edge approximately 100 m
into the Gulf of Mexico using a modified slingshot attached to the rear of a four-wheel
drive pickup truck. The buoys were observed as long as possible by personnel who were
onshore. Every 15 minutes, time, distance, and wind speed and direction were recorded.
In addition, launch and retrieval locations were recorded with a GPS unit. Retrieval
locations were only available when buoys returned to shore. To estimate the amount and
direction of sand transported by the longshore current (longshore drift), daily
oceanographic observations following those of Schneider and Weggel (1982) were
conducted at one benchmark on east beach (121) and one along west beach (110) from

83
April through August 2000. Data collected included wave period, direction, and type,
breaker height, wind speed, current speed and direction, foreshore slope, and width of the
surf zone. These data were then used to calculate longshore drift using the equation of
Walton (1980), which incorporates fluid density, acceleration of gravity, breaking wave
height, width of surf zone, mean longshore current velocity, distance of buoy used to
determine current velocity from shore, and a friction factor (0.1). The relationship
between current direction and wind direction was assessed using logistic regression in
Minitab (Minitab, Inc. 1996). The relationship between current direction and sea turtle
nesting was determined using a Mann-Whitney Rank Sum test in SigmaStat (Jandel
Corp. 1992).
Topography
Topographical measurements were taken along the west and east beaches of Cape
San Bias biweekly during summer (May 15 to September 1) and once a month
throughout the remainder of the year. Transects originated at four Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) benchmarks. Heights of the beach were
recorded using a laser transit and were documented every five meters along the transect,
as far into the Gulf of Mexico as possible. The relationship between sand movement and
wind direction was assessed using logistic regression in Minitab (Minitab, Inc. 1996). A
linear trendline was fit to the shallowest and steepest profile for each year and each
benchmark in Microsoft Excel (Microsoft 2000 version 9.0.2720) to estimate slope. The
mean of the two slopes was calculated for an overall slope for each benchmark. The
mean slopes of benchmarks 107 and 110 were averaged to generate an overall mean for
west beach, and of benchmarks 121 and 123 for east beach.

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Results
Sea turtle surveys and reproductive success
A mean of 65 sea turtle nests was laid on Cape San Bias in 1998, 1999, and 2000,
and of those, a mean of 78.1% were observed at oviposition (Table 4-1). Of the 111
turtles that were tagged, 27 (24.3%) nested more than once. Of those 27 turtles, 8 (7.2%)
nested three or more times. One turtle tagged on Cape San Bias on June 15, 1998 was
observed nesting on the eastern end of Gulf Islands National Seashore on Perdido Key,
Florida on July 17, 1998 (Mark Nicholas, Gulf Islands National Seashore, personal
communication). These nests were laid 32 days apart, with an inter-nesting distance of
approximately 250 km. Of the 153 nests laid, 94 (61.4%) were laid on west beach and 59
(38.6%) were laid on east beach. Along west beach, turtles nested almost equally on east
(E; 46.8%) and west (W; 53.1%) winds. On east beach, however, turtles nested more
frequently during W winds (80.7%) than E winds (19.3%; T = 187.5, p = 0.004; Fig. 4-1).
Of all nests deposited on Cape San Bias, hatchling emergence success, defined as
the total number of hatchlings that emerged from the nest, was 33.5% in 1998, 54.1% in
1999, and 41.5% in 2000. There was significantly greater success in 1999 than in 1998
(T = 3147.5, p = 0.003). In 1998, 55.4% of nests were lost to erosion before the
completion of incubation. This percentage declined to 16.3% in 1999 and 30.6% in 2000.
One nest was lost to raccoon depredation in each year.
In 1998, success was greater along east beach (39.8%) than west beach (23.3%).
In 1999 and 2000, however, success was greater along west beach (56.8% 1999; 36.5%
2000) than along east beach (36.9% 1999; 22.3% 2000). None of these comparisons
were statistically significant, however.

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Table 4-1. Data on loggerhead turtles nesting along 5-km of beach on Cape
San Bias, Florida, during the summers of 1998, 1999, and 2000.
1998
1999
2000
total # nests laid
54
80
62
# nests observed being laid
30
69
56
# turtles tagged
24
45
42
# and % of turtles that nested more
4
15
8
than once
(16.7%)
(33.3%)
(19.0%)
# turtles nested twice
3
11
5
# turtles nested three times
1
2
1
# turtles nested four times
0
2
2
avg. distance between successive nests
1.43 km
1.06 km
0.92 km
avg. distance nests were laid from
survey boundary
1.29 km
1.19 km
1.38 km
Tides
Tidal information was gathered off west beach for 54 days in 1998 and 9 days in
1999, and off east beach for five days in 2000. Tidal patterns collected from water
monitors off both beaches were nearly identical to those provided by the National
Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (see Fig. 3-7). The diurnal tidal pattern
observed off Cape San Bias was synchronous between west and east beaches.
Comparison of tidal patterns and timing of sea turtle nesting for all three years revealed
98% (152) of turtles nested on a rising tide and 2% (three) on a falling tide. No turtles
nested on a falling tide in 1998, one turtle did so in 1999, and two turtles nested while the
tide was falling in 2000 (Fig. 4-2).

Figure 4-1. The relationship between wind direction, current direction, and loggerhead turtle nesting along Cape San
Bias, Florida, from June 1998 through August 2000. Winds from the east (a) resulted in a westward flowing current and
few turtle nests along east beach. Winds from the west (b) caused easterly flowing currents and resulted in a larger
number of nests laid along east beach.

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Winds
Wind direction was recorded every day from May 1998 through August 2000
(Table 2-2). During the fall and winter, the wind blew primarily from the north and east
(N, NE, E), whereas during the spring and summer it blew mainly from the south and
west (S, SW, W).
Currents
Current speed and direction was observed on 13 days from April 2000 through
August 2000. Along east and west beach, there was a positive relationship between wind
and current direction (east z = -3.76, p < 0.001, west z = -2.34, p = 0.019; see Fig. 2-7).
Results of oceanographic observations also demonstrated this relationship. Observations
were collected for 57 days from April through August 2000. Along west beach, the
current traveled west on 21 (36.8%) days and east on 36 (63.2%) days. When the current
flow was west (W), the wind blew primarily from the NE, E, SE or S (85.7%), and when
it traveled east it blew most often from the SW, W, NW or N (81%). Along east beach,
the current traveled west on 14 (25.4%) days and east on 41 (74.6%) days. When the
current flow was westerly, the wind blew from the N, NE, E, or SE as often (50%) as
when it blew from the NW, W, SW, or S (50%). However, when the current traveled
east, the wind blew primarily from the NW, W, SW, or S (80.5%).
Topography
From September 1998 to August 2000, west beach lost 4.95 m of sand along the
entire profile (see Fig. 2-8). Individual points along the profile differed; the greatest loss
(-1.17 m) occurred 30 meters from the benchmark whereas the first 15 m of the profile
gained 0.16 m. During this period, east beach gained 3.78 m of sand along the entire

Figure 4-2. The relationship between tidal patterns and turtle nesting from June 1 to August 1, 1999 along Cape San Bias,
Florida. Grey points represent turtles that nested on a rising tide, and black points represent those that nested on a falling tide.

89
profile (see Fig. 2-9). The greatest gain (0.61 m) occurred 35 m from the benchmark,
whereas the greatest loss (-0.18 m) was documented 45 m from the benchmark. The
mean slope of west beach was -0.135 whereas that along east beach was -0.060. There
was a significant relationship between wind direction and sand movement along east and
west beach. On both beaches, accretion occurred more often when the wind blew from
the east than when it blew from the west, whereas erosion occurred more often during
winds from the west than those from the east (east z = -2.03, p = 0.042; west z = -2.50 p =
0.012; see Fig. 2-10). There was no seasonal variation in sand movement.
Discussion
Environmental cues, such as slope, moisture, temperature, and salinity aid in nest
site selection; however, along dynamic coasts these characteristics are constantly
changing. In these areas, use of offshore characteristics in nest site selection, such as
water depth, tides, and currents may help reduce energy expenditure of nesting females
and increase reproductive success. Leatherback turtle (Dermochyles coriácea) nesting
colonies are typically associated with beaches that provide deep near-shore access, which
may enable turtles to attain high nesting ground with minimal effort (Hendrickson 1980,
Eckert 1987). Along Cape San Bias, turtles nested more often along the narrow, eroding
west beach than the wide, accreting east beach. This may be due in part to a steeper slope
and deeper waters off west beach, which help create a steep beach profile and enable a
nesting turtle to expend less energy while placing her nest in an area less likely to erode
or become inundated. Hatchling emergence success of nests along both beaches
supported this hypothesis. Although west beach eroded while east beach accreted,
success was slightly greater on west beach than along east beach.

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These comparisons of hatchling emergence success between east and west beach
were not statistically significant, however. Sample sizes within each year were
dependent on the number of turtles that deposited nests within the study site, and no
intensification in sampling effort could increase that size. Because of low sample sizes,
variability within each year was great, which may have influenced statistical
comparisons.
Lack of statistical significance does not necessarily mean lack of biological
significance however, and these results appear to have biological significance (Anderson
et al. 2000). Greater hatchling emergence success along west beach was evident during
each year of the study, except 1998, in which two hurricanes (Hurricanes Earl and
Georges) caused extreme erosion along west beach. Under normal weather conditions,
the steep slope of west beach may serve enough of a barrier against high tides and erosion
along the beach face, however when tropical storms influence this area, the wide expanse
along east beach may provide better protection from extreme high tides, large waves, and
storm surges associated with tropical storms.
In addition to nesting on a steep beach profile, nesting on a high tide may also
reduce energy expenditure by nesting turtles. Nesting when tides are high may decrease
the distance required to reach an appropriate nesting site, which may reduce energy
expenditure and shorten the time a turtle is exposed to predators (Bustard 1979, Frazer
1983a). Turtles may only use this strategy in areas where tidal ranges are great (Frazer
1983a). Along Cape San Bias, tidal range is less than 0.3 m (see Chapter 3), but turtle
nesting is strongly correlated with tidal height. These results may reflect the influence of
wind on ocean currents in this area. Winds often blow waters farther up the beach during

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rising tides, which may increase actual tidal amplitude but not be reflected in tidal data
recordings (Stauble and Warnke 1974). In areas where waters are wind-driven, turtles
may take advantage of the extra energy provided by winds to rising tides. If this were
occurring; however, a relationship between onshore/offshore winds and timing of turtle
nesting would be expected, but was not observed during this study. Turtles nested almost
exclusively on high tides regardless of wind direction. Most likely, the primary concern
for turtles nesting along dynamic coasts is reduction of energy expenditure therefore
turtles nesting in these areas do so at high tide regardless of tidal amplitude.
Currents may also be used to reduce energy expenditure by nesting turtles. In
Japan, loggerhead turtles are often located within the Kuroshio current during the
internesting period, which may allow turtles to drift passively and conserve energy for
their next nesting attempt (Naito et al. 1990, Sakamoto et al. 1993). Green turtles
(Chelonia mydas) off Ascension Island remained relatively stationary after entering the
sea following nesting and may rest or drift within local currents (Mortimer and Portier
1989). Conserving energy during internesting periods may allow for increased hatchling
emergence success. Along Cape San Bias, turtles may frequent deeper waters off west
beach during internesting periods. When winds blow from the west and generate easterly
flowing currents, they may be carried over the Cape San Bias shoals and into the vicinity
of east beach. However, when easterly winds create westward flowing currents, energy
must be expended for turtles to swim against the current and over the shoals to nest along
east beach. In this dynamic environment, preserving energy and nesting along a steeply
sloping beach may increase reproductive success of loggerhead turtles.

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Turtles nesting along unstable beaches may scatter their nests on a water-to-dune
axis to maximize reproductive success (Mrosovsky 1983, Eckert 1987, Bjorndal and
Bolten 1992, Wood and Bjorndal 2000). Turtles nesting in these regions may also scatter
nests along the beach throughout the system. Eckert (1987) suggested nest dispersal
should occur whenever nest survival is not strongly correlated with available
environmental information. Typically, loggerhead turtles exhibit lower site fidelity than
those species that nest along more stable beaches, such as green and hawksbill turtles
(Carr and Carr 1972, Talbert et al. 1980, Williams-Walls et al. 1983, Garundo-Andrade
1999). Perhaps this reduction in site fidelity permits turtles nesting along unpredictable
coasts to scatter nests throughout the entire nesting beach and reduce losses to erosion
and inundation. This strategy may also permit energy conservation by allowing turtles to
drift with the current to a nesting location rather than expend energy to swim back to a
specific nesting site. Along Cape San Bias, if a turtle originally nested along east beach
during an easterly wind and attempted to renest during a westerly wind, she would have
to swim against the current to renest in that location. Although size of the study site
during this research was too small to accurately assess site fidelity of turtles nesting along
Cape San Bias, few within-season returns were observed. This indicates site fidelity in
this area may be weaker than that expressed by green and hawksbill turtles, and supports
the idea that loggerhead turtles nesting along dynamic coasts scatter nests throughout the
system to reduce nest loss to erosion and inundation.

CHAPTER 5
CONCLUSIONS
Summary
Barrier islands are dynamic for several reasons. Their formation requires large
supplies of sand, and forces such as long-term changes in sea level and human alteration
of rivers and coasts cause great variability in these sand sources. In addition, many
barrier islands form in regions with shallow water, moderate wave energy, and small tidal
ranges (Hayes 1979). The resulting systems are greatly influenced by winds, and
variability in these wind patterns often affect sand movement along barrier islands.
Finally, barrier islands serve to protect the mainland from large waves, high tides, strong
winds, and storm surges. These systems are often significantly impacted by seasonal
storms that may drastically alter the habitat. The species relying on this habitat for
survival must have the physical and behavioral adaptations to persist under these variable
conditions.
The gently sloping continental shelf on which Cape San Bias lies creates shallow
waters that are greatly influenced by winds, therefore oceanographic currents in this area
are mostly wind-driven. These currents carry sand primarily from offshore deposits and
secondarily from the Apalachicola River to help maintain this barrier island system. The
shoals that extend from Cape San Bias serve as an obstruction to sand movement, and
divide the offshore shelf into a flat, shallow eastern region and undulating, deeper
western region (Stauble and Warnke 1974). The results of these characteristics are an
accreting eastern beach and an eroding western beach.
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The calm waters and shallow slope along east beach and the rougher waters and
steeper slope along west beach help define the shorebird community and the sea turtle
nesting distribution in this area. Along east beach, invertebrate species, such as
polychaete worms and coquina clams, are able to forage and reproduce year-round,
whereas the characteristics of west beach limit the foraging and reproductive activity of
these species (Tanner 1964, Richards 1970, Saloman and Naughton 1978). These
invertebrate species dominate the prey base for some shorebird species, such as small
plovers and peep, therefore the invertebrates’ limited and seasonal abundance along west
beach restricts the distribution of some shorebird species to east beach (Hockey et al.
1999).
Seasonal peaks in invertebrate abundance result in an increase in shorebird
species diversity but they do not correlate with peaks in shorebird abundance. Many
shorebird species are able to take advantage of the increase in invertebrate abundance
during spring migration; however, during fall migration, when invertebrate abundance
does not peak, large flocks of those species most adapted to this dynamic habitat use this
area (Baker and Baker 1973). Appearance of these large single-species flocks resulted in
an increase in overall abundance of shorebirds even without a corresponding increase in
invertebrate abundance.
The steeper slope along west beach may also influence nesting sea turtles by
enabling them to expend less energy to reach high nesting sites, which may reduce
chances of nest loss to erosion or inundation (Hendrickson 1980, Eckert 1987). Nesting
on a high tide may also assist in this effort. Loggerhead turtles use environmental cues to
help identify nesting sites; however, along dynamic beaches, these cues are constantly

95
changing (Johannes and Rimmer 1984, Garmestani et al. 2000, Wood and Bjomdal
2000). In these habitats, offshore characteristics, such as water depth, currents, and tides
may assist in reducing energy expenditure and increasing reproductive success (Frazer
1983a, Mortimer and Portier 1989, Naito et al. 1990, Horrocks and Scott 1991).
Although the west beach of Cape San Bias erodes, nests deposited were at least as
successful as those laid along the accreting east beach.
Energy reduction and increased reproductive success may also be accomplished
through use of offshore currents during the internesting period. It is less advantageous
for turtles nesting in dynamic environments to clump nests in one specific nesting site
therefore it is not necessary for turtles to expend energy to return to previous nesting
locations. Instead, turtles nesting along these coasts may scatter their nests throughout
the system (Mrosovsky 1983, Eckert 1987, Bjorndal and Bolten 1992, Wood and
Bjorndal 2000). This enables turtles to drift in offshore currents during the internesting
period thereby conserving energy for the next nesting attempt. Nesting along the east
beach of Cape San Bias during a westward wind requires turtles to swim against the
current and over the shoals, which may deplete energy reserves for the current and
subsequent nesting attempts.
The intense seasonal storms that influence this region can decrease diversity of
the shorebird community and success of turtle nests. Loss of habitat due to hurricanes
reduced numbers of some shorebird species and these numbers have yet to recover;
however, the overall persistence and stability values for this community increased within
two years of the storms. Success of turtle nests was slightly greater along west beach
every year, except in 1998 when several tropical storms influenced the area. Nests were

96
not protected from the severe erosion resulting from these storms by the steep slope of
this narrow west beach. In the years following the storms, hatchlings continued to emerge
successfully from nests along both beaches.
Although barrier islands are extremely dynamic systems, they are able to support
persistent and stable shorebird communities and successful nesting groups of loggerhead
turtles. The wave energy and sand movement defines the invertebrate community
thereby regulating distribution of shorebirds. Those shorebird species best adapted to the
ever-changing conditions are most successful. Sea turtles are able to use the
oceanographic forces that create this dynamic system to help reduce energy expenditure
and increase reproductive success. These species have adapted to continue foraging and
nesting successfully along barrier islands.
Management Recommendations
The dynamics of barrier island systems and the influence this variability has on
the species using the habitat requires unique management actions. Much of the sand
movement that occurs in these systems is natural and interference with these forces may
have serious consequences to the maintenance of the entire barrier island system. Sand
from the west beach of Cape San Bias is transported north and deposited along the tip of
the St. Joseph Peninsula, therefore reducing sand movement off the west beach would
alter the entire Peninsula. Consideration of the system must occur before management
activities are initiated.
Erosion
Management of eroding beaches typically involves replacing lost sand rather than
slowing erosion rates. Areas highly dependent on tourism, such as Miami Beach and
Panama City Beach, have nourished their beaches to provide more space for beach-goers.

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Typically, sand used in nourishment projects is dredged from offshore sites and pumped
onto the beach. Although the replaced sand often closely resembles the lost sand in size,
chemistry, and color, dredging offshore sites may exacerbate erosion. The primary
source of sand for Cape San Bias is a deposit of remnant sediment located southeast of
the cape spit. Removing sand from this deposit would decrease the remaining source of
sediment for this system, thus limiting the amount of sand available for transport and
accretion on Cape San Bias beaches.
Another potential source of sand for nourishing Cape San Bias beaches are the
shoals that extend nearly 25 km south of Cape San Bias. Tanner (1961) suggested the
Cape San Bias shoals contain approximately 500 million m3 of sand. This sand may have
come from the same source that created Cape San Bias and should therefore be similar in
size and color to the sand already on the beaches (Stauble and Wamke 1974). The Cape
San Bias shoals however, are an integral part of this barrier island and removal of sand
from them would alter the dynamics of the entire system. The shoals divide the offshore
region into two sections, with the accreting east beach on one side and the eroding west
beach on the other. In serving as a barrier to westward flowing currents, the shoals limit
the amount of sand reaching west beach thereby contributing to erosion of this coast;
however this same process permits accretion of east beach. Removal of sand from the
shoals may weaken this barrier, which may increase erosion rates along both beaches.
The shoals may also provide a barrier to nesting sea turtles possibly reducing their
expression of nesting site fidelity and increasing reproductive success. Nourishment of
Cape San Bias beaches through dredging of offshore sites would greatly alter the system

98
and may result in increased rates of erosion and decreased reproductive success of
nesting loggerhead turtles.
Beach nourishment along Cape San Bias may not only alter the habitat, but may
also be futile. Because erosion along west beach is severe, sand pumped onto the coast
during nourishment efforts may be transported off the coast in a short period of time.
From 1998 to 2000, five meters of sand were lost along Cape San Bias per year. This
erosion rate is most likely conservative, due to the lack of hurricanes influencing this
region during this period. This conservative erosion rate indicates that even if 25 m of
sand were deposited along Cape San Bias beaches during renourishment efforts, that
sediment would be washed away within five years.
The secondary source of sand for Cape San Bias is the Apalachicola River. In
1957, the Jim Woodruff Dam was built in the river approximately 160 km upstream from
the Gulf of Mexico (Leitman et al. 1991). Since that time, the Apalachicola riverbed has
degraded about 1 m because the dam traps sediments from upstream (Leitman et al.
1991). In addition, approximately 800,000 m3 of sediment is dredged annually from the
river to maintain shipping channels (Leitman et al. 1991). Preventing sediment from
moving downstream and removing sediment for shipping limits the amount of sand
available for transport to barrier islands. Developing methods that allow sediment to
remain in suspension while traveling through the dam and reducing the amount of dredge
material removed from the river may increase sediment supplies to Cape San Bias, which
may help decrease erosion rates in this area.
Because the pattern of sand movement that occurs along Cape San Bias is natural,
prevention of erosion is difficult. Altering coastal processes may create more problems

99
therefore working with the system may be the best option. With a mean erosion rate of
approximately five meters per year, structures should be constructed at least 100 m
inland, which may allow preservation of the structure for 25 years. Accepting the pattern
of accretion and erosion along Cape San Bias as natural and inevitable may prevent
alteration of the habitat and loss of structures and human life.
Shorebirds and Sea Turtles
The dynamics of Cape San Bias influence the distribution and abundance of
intertidal invertebrates. The species using this area are adapted to the variable conditions
therefore altering these conditions may affect the invertebrate community. Because
shorebirds forage on these invertebrates, changing characteristics along Cape San Bias
would not only influence the invertebrate community, but also the abundance and
distribution of shorebirds foraging in this area. Although the habitat these birds depend
upon is variable, this community has remained stable and persistent since 1994. The
species using this system are adapted to the processes influencing this barrier island and
altering these processes may change the structure of this community.
Sea turtles nesting along barrier islands have also responded to the dynamics of
these systems. Turtles may use the forces that create this ever-changing habitat to help
reduce energy expenditure during the nesting process and increase hatchling emergence
success. The steep beach profile along west beach coupled with rising tides allows turtles
to place nests in areas less susceptible to erosion or inundation. This may help increase
success, except during extremely high waters such as occur during tropical storms.
Along barrier island beaches, erosion is often the greatest threat to successful
nesting by sea turtles. To reduce nest loss from erosion, many managers relocate nests
laid near the water to nearby areas that are more stable. In 1994, many nests were lost to

100
erosion along the west beach of Cape San Bias. Therefore in 1995 and 1996, every nest
deposited along the west beach of Cape San Bias was relocated to the east beach.
Although hatchling emergence success of relocated nests was high (>70%), effects of
relocation on the resulting hatchlings was unknown. Sex of hatchling sea turtles is
determined by the temperature at which eggs incubate. During the middle third of
incubation, sex of hatchlings is determined. Those eggs incubating below the pivotal
temperature (about 28 to 30° C) during this period will develop as males whereas those
above the pivotal temperature will become females (Ackerman 1991). Relocating eggs
from their original nesting site to a different location may greatly influence the
temperature at which the eggs will incubate, which may greatly alter the resulting sex
ratio.
In addition to influencing sex ratio, relocating eggs alters the nest environment,
which may affect eggs and hatchlings. Eggs located along the periphery of the nest
chamber are in contact with sand along the chamber wall, whereas those in the middle of
the clutch are in contact with other eggs. Sea turtle eggs exchange gases and water with
the surrounding environment therefore changing the environment will affect these
exchanges and may negatively influence the developing embryos (Ackerman 1991,
Carthy 1996).
Although many nests are lost to erosion along Cape San Bias, relocating all nests
off west beach may harm rather than benefit the turtles. When this area has been
significantly impacted by tropical storms, such as in 1994 and 1995, nest loss to erosion
was great along both west and east beach. During years of calm weather however,
success along west beach was often equal to or greater than success along east beach. In

101
2000, no major storms influenced Cape San Bias, and total hatchling emergence success
along west beach was 55% whereas that along east beach was 29%. In 1998, when Cape
San Bias was influenced by two hurricanes (Earl and Georges), success was lower along
west beach (29%) than east beach (43%). It is not possible to predict when storms will
influence Cape San Bias, and if it is a calm storm season, nests will incubate successfully
along west beach. Impacting hatchlings by potential alteration of sex ratios and changing
the incubation environment in expectation of a storm that may not occur does not benefit
loggerhead sea turtles.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Margaret Malcomson Lamont was born on November 19, 1968, in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. She graduated from Woodstown High School in Woodstown, New Jersey,
in June 1987. After high school, she spent four years at The College of New Jersey in
Trenton, New Jersey, before graduating in June 1991 with a Bachelor of Science in
biology and a minor in geography. In college, she was a teaching assistant for the Cell and
Molecular Biology class and received her first field experience as a technician for the
Rutgers University Shellfish Laboratory along the Delaware Bay. Immediately upon
graduating from college, she accepted a summer internship at Moss Landing Marine
Laboratories in Moss Landing, California, where she assisted with projects in the marine
mammal laboratory. In fall 1991, Meg was admitted to the graduate school at Moss
Landing Marine Laboratories where she researched the genetic substructure of Pacific
harbor seals. She received her master’s degree in marine science in April 1995. In May
1995, Meg moved to Florida to assist the Florida Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research
Unit at the University of Florida with an ecological inventory along Cape San Bias in the
Florida Panhandle. She served as a technician on that project for one year before taking
over as project biologist. In December 1997, the Cape San Bias Ecological Study was
completed and Meg was accepted to the PhD program in the Department of Wildlife
Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida. Meg continued to conduct
112

research on Cape San Bias, focusing her PhD studies on the response of foraging
shorebirds and nesting sea turtles to barrier island dynamics.
113

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Raymond R. Carthy, Chair ¿
Assistant Professor of Wildlife Ecology
and Conservation
I certify that I have read this study and that if
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosof
opinionjtconformsjtq
lly^d€quate/in scope and quality,
H. Franklin Percival
Associate Professor of Wildlife Ecology
and Conservation
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Karen A. Bjomdal (/
Professor of Zoology
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
«¿f, ¡9-
Robert G. Dean
Professor of Civil and Coastal
Engineering
This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the College of
Agricultural and Life Sciences and to the Graduate School and was accepted as partial
fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
May 2002
Dean, College of Agricultural <
Sciences
and Life
a.
Dean, Grad
yate School^

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