Date Thesis Awarded

4-2014

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)

Department

Biology

Advisor

M. Drew LaMar

Committee Member

Randolph M. Chambers

Committee Member

Rex K. Kincaid

Abstract

Diamondback terrapins are a species of turtle found along the coast of the United States from Massachusetts to Texas. Many of the states in this range list the terrapins as endangered, threatened, or a species of concern. However, little is known about their actual population sizes or dynamics. To address this, we use a nonlinear, stage-based model to examine the effects of human-related threats such as crab pots and road traffic. We compare our results to those produced by a linear model. When applied to a population of Rhode Island terrapins, our nonlinear model shows that crab potting has a larger negative effect on the population (which causes a population decline occurring at 6.6% mortality of affected stages) than road mortality (with a population decline at 10.6% mortality of affected stages). We also present population data gathered in the Williamsburg, VA area during the summer of 2013. We conclude that additional field work is needed in order to determine the status of many terrapin populations, but that in areas of existing crab potting, conservation efforts should focus on reducing terrapin mortality through the use of bycatch reduction devices.

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