Globally, marine turtle populations have declined sharply from historic estimates. Rapid changes to turtle nesting habitats, caused by accelerating coastal development and beach erosion, pose new threats to these iconic species in Australia and worldwide. Marine turtles nest in coastal dunes where a key risk factor is nest loss from erosion and inundation– this makes selection of nests sites by turtles critical in predicting their future nesting success. Yet, the precise factors determining nest site selection remain largely unknown. The aim of this project is to model nesting success in relation to local and regional geomorphic features obtained at unmatched accuracy and resolution using novel surveying techniques. In order achieve this, beach and dune geomorphology will be surveyed immediately after a nest location is identified by the extensive network of a local volunteer group that undertake daily beach surveys during turtle nesting season in the Sunshine Coast. Rapid 3D beach surveying will be based on remotely-sensed images collected from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV/drones) and processed using cost-effective close-range photogrammetric techniques. The data collection will extend seamlessly from the dunes into the surf zone. Importantly, the outcomes of this project will enhance and improve species conservation outcomes by identifying critical landscape features that can be actively managed, restored, protected and monitored by coastal authorities.
2015 University Research Conference: Integrate, Innovate, Inspire, Sunshine Coast, Australia 13-16 July 2015