The Effects of Water Temperature and Human Activity on the Nesting Frequency of Diamondback Terrapins

Cruz, Lauren
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University of Delaware
Wildlife is constantly at risk due to many anthropogenic and environmental factors. The diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin), a small estuarine species of emydid turtle is no exception as they are currently rated as a species of concern in many states on the East Coast including Delaware and New Jersey and have been declining throughout their range. There is concern that increased anthropogenic disturbances could be influencing terrapin population declines especially during their nesting season in late May-July. In addition, water temperature drops, possibly due to upwelling events have been observed to decrease foraging and possibly terrapin nesting activity. Using Akaike Information Criteria corrected for small sample size (AICc), I tested the effects of environmental and anthropogenic factors on the number of landings including date, time, water temperature, rain, tidal stage, neap/spring tide, moonlight, human activity, and previous days human activity. The research was conducted on North Sedge Island in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey 8 June 2012- 17 July 2012. The best fit model indicated date, time, neap/spring tide, and tide stage during landing were most correlated to nesting frequency. While human activity was not a significant predictor in my final model, anecdotal observations indicated a possible relationship may occur and biologists are encouraged to further investigate this variable due to the high management implication in the very developed coastal New Jersey.