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Diamondback Terrapin Monitoring

The diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) is an ecologically important coastal turtle found throughout the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the United States and is the only species of turtle in North America that exclusively inhabits brackish water. Diamondback terrapins are listed as a vulnerable species as a result of habitat loss from coastal development and estuarine saltmarsh loss, and bycatch in crab traps. At the Grand Bay NERR (GNDNERR), shoreline habitats that are important nesting areas for the diamondback terrapin are eroding at high rates. This loss of nesting habitat could lead to decreasing local populations of the diamondback terrapin.

Staff at the GNDNERR have begun monitoring the distribution of diamondback terrapins throughout the Reserve by conducting walking surveys during nesting season and searching for nesting activity. Possible future monitoring might include collecting additional information on nest locations to get a more accurate idea of their preferred nesting habitat, gathering more data on the local population (e.g., demographics, population size, mortality, etc.), determining local predators and figuring out how terrapins are moving throughout the Reserve by using radio tracking and satellite telemetry. Understanding more about the size, distribution and threats to the local diamondback terrapin population can improve our ability to protect the species and will help make informed management decisions.

Meet the Staff

Michael Archer is the Coastal Ecologist.
He leads the diamondback terrapin monitoring project.