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Confirmation of Candidature - Candidate : Bridget Finlayson

Climate and Coastal Development Impacts on Marine Turtles in Eastern Australia- a Systems Modelling Analysis
30 MAR 2023
2.30 PM - 4.00 PM

Marine turtles have evolved over millions of years and persisted through periods of major climate change through time (Thomson et al., 2021). However, populations of the seven extant species of marine turtle, six of which occur in Australian waters, are declining due to human induced impacts such as anthropogenic climate change and coastal development. Sea level rise, sea surface temperature increase, and increased variability of weather events are key aspects of climate change impacting marine turtles. Coastal development impacts resulting from urban and agricultural land use and infrastructure, such as buildings, roads, and seawalls especially impact nesting and near-coastal feeding habitats. There is currently little research into the cumulative impacts of climate change and coastal development.

My research will investigate and model key factors impacting marine turtle populations, with particular focus on the role of climate change and coastal development. I will conduct a systematic quantitative literature review to capture all relevant literature on marine turtle ecology and species responses to climate variability, climate change and coastal development. Based on this, I will develop a conceptual systems model to capture the relationships between climate variables, coastal development, and the conservation status of selected marine turtle species. Lastly, I will develop a quantitative predictive model that will enable investigation of how a range of plausible future climatic and coastal development scenarios may impact marine turtles, specifically on the Fraser Coast of Queensland. 

My research will provide a novel integrated assessment of major factors currently impacting marine turtle populations, globally. It will also develop a working model, able to be customised for other species and locations, to enable prediction of conservation outcomes to support more effective conservation policy development and decision-making.

For more information, please email the Graduate Research School or phone 0746 311 088.