Nesting Ecology of Diamond Back Terrapins at the Cattlett Islands

The object of the study is to test a GIS-based model of terrapin occurrence in the Chesapeake Bay (Funkhouser et al. 2019). This model predicts the Catlett Islands in the York River as a suitable nesting habitat for Diamondback Terrapins. Terrapins are known to occur in the waters around Catlett Islands but to date, no one has studied their nesting on this island complex. The Catlett Islands are largely protected from human intervention and development, so this project is a good location to not only test one prediction of the GIS model, but also to give a more holistic view of the nesting ecology of terrapins on the island complex. Throughout their range in Virginia the status of terrapin populations is uncertain, and currently few studies describe the nesting ecology of terrapins in Chesapeake Bay. My study will address the following research questions: What is the location, number and success of terrapin nests on the Catlett Island complex?
Each day during the nesting period is to paddle out in a canoe from a point in Cedar Bush Creek (adjacent to Catlett Islands) and land the canoe on the beach. We will mark the location of intact nests or record the area. Once nesting is completed by active females, we will measure and mark the nesting female prior to release on-site.

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