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Evaluating a portable cylindrical bait trap to capture diamondback terrapins in salt marsh

February 6, 2016

Diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin) are currently in decline across much of their historical range, and demographic data on a regional scale are needed to identify where their populations are at greatest risk. Because terrapins residing in salt marshes are difficult to capture, we designed a cylindrical bait trap (CBT) that could be deployed in shallow tidal waters. From 2003 to 2006, trials were conducted with CBTs in the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland (USA) to determine terrapin sex, size, and age distribution within 3 salt marsh interior habitats—open bays, tidal guts, and broken marshes—using 15 traps/habitat. Analyses based on 791 total captures with CBTs indicate that smaller terrapins, (i.e., adult male and subadult) were more prevalent within the transecting tidal guts and broken marshes, whereas the adult females were more evenly distributed among habitats, including open bays. Subadult females made up the largest percent of catch in the CBTs deployed within the 3 marsh interior habitats. During a 12-day trial in which we compared capture performance of CBTs and modified fyke nets along open shorelines during the nesting season, fyke nets outperformed CBTs by accounting for 95.2% of the 604 terrapin captures. Although the long drift leads of the fyke nets proved more effective for intercepting along-shore travel of adult female terrapins during the nesting season, CBTs provided a more effective means of live-trapping terrapins within the shallow interior marshes.

Publication Year 2016
Title Evaluating a portable cylindrical bait trap to capture diamondback terrapins in salt marsh
DOI 10.1002/wsb.610
Authors Paula F. P. Henry, G. Michael Haramis, Daniel D. Day
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Wildlife Society Bulletin
Index ID 70170009
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Patuxent Wildlife Research Center; Contaminant Biology Program