Sea level rise (SLR) and disturbances from increased storm activity are expected to diminish coastal habitats available for sea turtle, seabird, shorebird, and beach mouse nesting by removing habitat as well as inundating nests during critical incubation periods. The goal of our proposed research is to evaluate past nesting patterns of fourteen coastal nesting species and predict future effects of sea level rise on nesting beaches along the South Atlantic Bight. Maps of coastal vulnerability to SLR combined with historical data sets of long-term and spatially extensive nesting habitat will lead to models that enhance our understanding of the complex environmental changes occurring from global climate change and their effects on globally imperiled species. The results from this study will equip policy makers and natural area managers with the ability to prioritize those areas which will need the greatest conservation intervention. The coastal study areas include nesting beaches for fourteen species from North Carolina south to Melbourne, Florida. Our study will link long-term survey data for four species of sea turtle, three species of shorebird, five species of seabird, and two beach mouse species to maps of coastal vulnerability to sea level rise (SLR) in order to understand the effects of sea level rise on population viability and socioeconomic effects. First, we will create habitat suitability maps for coastal nesting species along the South Atlantic Bight. Second, we will integrate a model of SLR along with long term field biological observations in order to predict vulnerability to nesting habitat loss for sea turtle, seabird and shorebird, and beach mouse species within our study region. Third, habitat loss vulnerability maps under different predictions of SLR, considering local SLR and eustatic SLR induced by climate change, will allow natural area managers to construct strategies for mitigating the impacts of a changing climate on these coastal nesting species, many of which are threatened and endangered. Fourth, we will estimate the socioeconomic costs of changes in coastal nesting habitats and the benefits of implementing different mitigation strategies for our study region. Last, we will estimate future populations of these species with SLR, given survivorship under different development scenarios. With the results from our study, planners and decision makers will be able to choose from a portfolio of mitigation techniques for policies relevant to coastal nesting species. There is an urgent need to determine longterm plans so that the most cost-effective strategies of reducing the effects of sea level rise on coastal species can be determined.
Click on title to download individual files attached to this item.
Potential Metadata Source