Effects of Light Pollution on Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta) Nesting Behavior in Georgia and South Carolina
Barnard, Malcolm Alexander
Peissig, Jenna Margaret
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Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) are a species of endangered sea turtle, whose nesting and hatching success can be hindered by light pollution. We hypothesize that beaches with lower light pollution levels will have higher nesting success, i.e. higher number of nests, higher ratio of nests to false crawls, higher nest success, higher beach success, and lower nest relocation percentage. Using data from SeaTurtle.org and the 2015 VIIRS light data, we analyzed the effects of light pollution on loggerhead sea turtle nesting behavior. We performed a series on linear regressions to examine the relationship between light pollution and six sea turtle nesting success variables. We found a significant positive relationship between light pollution and the ratio of nests to false crawls, and a significant positive relationship between light pollution and the nest relocation percentage. The other four linear regressions were not statistically significant. However, low R2 values indicate that light pollution does not explain much of the variation in these nesting success variables, and further studies should be conducted to investigate sea turtle nesting behavior.