After eight weeks of lab and field work my summer research has come to an end. While it’s nice to be back home where I can relax and sleep in, I really miss the terrapins!
We’ve captured, marked, and released 43 diamondback terrapins now; far more than we ever imagined we’d find. Pretty soon I’ll be able to use the data we’ve gathered in a mathematical model to predict the future behavior of the population based on known survival rates of the various stage classes.
This past week we caught 12 new diamondback terrapins at Queens Creek, which branches off of the York River. We followed the same procedure as the previous week, measuring and marking each of them. Since nothing too eventful happened, I thought I’d give you all some background information on diamondback terrapins.
Week 2 began bright and early. By 8am on Monday I was on my way to Queens Creek, where Professor Chambers and I would place the ten modified crab traps. These traps were almost identical to the crab pots we saw sitting on the residential docks along the creek. Ours, however, had tall mesh chimneys protruding from the top. When the terrapins swim in the openings in the sides of the trap, they are unable to find their way back out. Our chimneys allow them to come to the surface for air until we record their presence and release them. We placed the ten traps toward the edge of the creek, attaching them to pieces of wood hammered into the mud so they wouldn’t drift away.
I began my summer research on June 3rd, returning to the Quantitative Biology Lab tucked in a back corner of the ISC’s second floor. Unlike most of the other biology and chemistry labs on this floor, here you won’t find any vials full of chemicals, Bunsen burners, or lab mice. Instead, it’s a lab full of computers where we design mathematical models, and couches where we gather for group discussions. I spent most of my research hours this week in the lab, making adjustments to the diamondback terrapin population model that I was working on during the past school year.