USF St. Petersburg campus Master's Theses (Graduate)


Kate Rae Lowry

First Advisor

Major Advisor: Dr. Heather Judkins

Second Advisor

Committee Member: Dr. Ari Fustukjian

Third Advisor

Committee Member: Dr. Alison Gainsbury


University of South Florida St. Petersburg

Document Type


Publication Date


Date Issued

October 29, 2019


Sea turtles are a crucial component of many coastline habitats due to their roles as ecosystem engineers and their ability to raise awareness for conservation efforts. Despite the extensive amount of research conducted on nesting behaviors of wild sea turtles, there are few behavioral studies of turtles in managed care. Sea turtles were observed at The Florida Aquarium from February 2018 to May 2019 to examine possible variations among behavior for five Loggerhead (Caretta caretta), Green (Chelonia mydas), and Kemp’s Ridley turtles (Lepidochelys kempii). The first part of this study includes a baseline time budget for the five turtles using the baseline ethogram developed for this research. The second half of this study addresses five hypotheses that compare turtle behavior based on time of day, time of year, species and enclosure size. A Mann-Whitney U test was used to determine the significance of the results. Results show that there is no significant difference in sea turtle behavior based on these factors. Through the knowledge gained in this study, facilities caring for sea turtles will be able to determine health condition and animal welfare with the use of behavioral analyses.


A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Conservation Biology Department of Biological Sciences College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida St. Petersburg

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