Coastal development and sea-level rise : impacts on sandy beaches and sea turtles
Sandy beach habitat is threatened globally by climate change and extensive human modification of coastal areas. Loss of sandy beaches is of concern for the many species dependent on this habitat: in this thesis I focus on sea turtles, which rely on beaches for nesting. To provide a context for the subsequent chapters, I begin by reviewing the ways in which sandy beaches are altered by humans, and how these alterations have affected sea turtles. Resilience of beaches to environmental change depends on local physical and anthropogenic influences. Analysis of the relative vulnerability of coastlines in the
Caribbean region to alteration reveals extensive spatial variability. One of the major sources of beach alteration in the Caribbean is the tourism industry and many beaches used by sea turtles are now also used by tourists. I assess the overlap between turtle and tourist beach-state requirements and suggest that integrated management is facilitated where the requirements of turtles and tourists are complementary. One of the impacts of human alteration of coastal areas is extensive beach erosion. The latter part of the thesis focuses on erosion management options. As tourists benefit from maintenance of beaches, I examine the potential for them to fmancially contribute towards beach management. I highlight the management options that would result in beach states preferred by tourists, whilst also maintaining the ecological integrity of
beaches. One such option is the use of setback regulations, which aids long-term beach maintenance by moving buildings away from the beach. Models of beach loss under a range of setback-regulation distances and sea-level rise scenarios predict that
implementation of setback regulations at a sufficient distance may mitigate beach loss caused by sea-level rise.