Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Georgia
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Georgia Project

Impacts of Extreme High Tide Events on Sea Turtle Nesting on Georgia Barrier Islands

August 2015 - April 2018


Participating Agencies

  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Climate change and associated sea level rise is expected to lead to an increase in extreme high tide events and consequent storm surges, erosion, and coastal flooding on the Atlantic coast. Reproductive success of the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta), which is listed as Threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, is dependent on the timing of emergence, nest siting, and nest laying activity, and these in turn are linked to dynamics of tidal cycles and storm events. Conservation of the loggerhead sea turtle requires an understanding of how nesting habitats and hatchling productivity will be affected by factors associated with climate change. Results from this work will help Georgia Department of Natural Resources and other management agencies understand the likely impact of extreme high tide events on sea turtle productivity and the necessary conservation measures needed to mitigate against adverse impacts. This research was conducted in collaboration with Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the University of Georgia. This work produced projections of the frequency of extreme high tide events, which served as inputs to models that predicted nest success in response to physiographic and habitat attributes of the nest. This research will be used by conservation agencies in Georgia and elsewhere to plan for mitigation and adaptation strategies for the turtle.

Theses and Dissertations Publication Date
Wilson, A. W. 2018. The impacts of extreme high tide events on sea turtle nesting along the Georgia barrier islands. M.S. Thesis, University of Georgia, Athens May 2018