Selected Achievements Concerning About the Florida TurtleDiamondback Terrapins Conservation TrustTo date, the FTCT has: The Florida Turtle Conservation Trust was formed inü organized and co-sponsored a symposium on the 1999 by a group of biologists and conservationists concerned with the conservation outlook for Florida Diamondback Terrapinsstatus and conservation of Florida turtles turtles. Our purpose is to promote the conservation of of Tampa Bay all Florida turtle species and the preservation of intact,ü co-sponsored a national workshop on the ecology, free-ranging populations and their associated ecosys-status and conservation of diamondback terrapins tems throughout the state. The FTCT is committed to and supports education, conservation, research, andü initiated the development of both a national and management efforts with the above goals in mind.Florida Diamondback Terrapin Working Group If you are not already a member of the Florida Turtleü organized Florida turtle educational exhibits at nature Conservation Trust, please consider joining us as wefestivals, environmental events and conferences work to conserve Florida’s rich turtle diversity. Members include biologists, land managers, agencyü co-developed and funded the Pinellas County School representatives, environmental consultants, educators,District’s Florida turtle track pack conservationists, and concerned citizens. In addition to supporting our conservation work, members receiveü donated books on Florida turtles to all public school discounts on meeting registration fees and opportunitieslibraries in six Florida panhandle counties to attend organized field trips. Please visit our website for more information (www.ftct.org).ü assisted the Florida Fish and Wildlife ConservationCommission with the development of a diamondbackterrapin educational poster and exhibitü developed a diamondback terrapin educator’s guide Florida Turtleand associated board game Conservation Trustü organized and facilitated a diamondback terrapineducators’ workshop Working to conserve Florida’s rich turtle diversity Text by George L. Heinrich, Timothy J. Walsh and Dr. Joseph A. Butler. Illustrations by Charles H. Miller. FTCT logo design by Steve Smith. www.ftct.org Brochure design by Tim Walsh and George L. Heinrich. Published by the FTCT in March 2011. Funding for development of this brochure was provided by the Tampa Bay Estuary Program. Printed on 30% post-consumer recycled paper.
Diamondback Terrapins of Tampa Bay Threats and Conservation Actions Laws and Regulations Pertaining to Diamondback Terrapins in Florida Diamondback terrapins were once common in brackish ecosystems along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, but have Although not a state-listed species, numerous suffered from a long history of human exploitation. researchers have demonstrated that diamondback Current major threats to this species in Florida include: terrapins are imperiled in a literal sense. Terrapins are designated as near threatened by the International Loss of nesting habitat: Coastal development decreases Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN Red List). available nesting habitat and further fragments The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation populations. Acquisition and protection of these sites Commission limits the possession of terrapins and by governmental agencies and private conservation prohibits their sale. groups would greatly benefit terrapin conservation efforts. Hardening of shoreline to prevent real estate property damage also limits access to nesting habitat. In cases where coastal armoring cannot be avoided,The diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) is the identifying ways to provide access to terrapin nestingonly turtle in the world that is entirely restricted to sites is recommended.brackish water and can be found in Florida’s extensiveestuaries, mangrove and salt marsh habitats. Tampa Bay Predation: Diamondback terrapin nests and adults areis the largest open water estuary in Florida. These an important food source for many species of wildlife.habitats are often described as areas “where rivers meet Some subsidized predators, such as raccoons, causethe sea” (mixture of fresh and salt water). Although considerable damage to terrapin populations at nestingterrapins occur in 16 states along the Atlantic and Gulf sites. In some cases, control efforts may be warranted.coasts, the coastline of Florida represents approximately20% of their entire range. Florida terrapin populations Incidental drowning in crab pots: Mortality due toand habitats are critical to the conservation of the entire bycatch in crab pots is the greatest threat to terrapinsspecies. throughout their range. Research in Florida waters has shown that the use of simple, inexpensive bycatchDiamondback terrapins play a significant role in the food reductions devices (BRDs) on crab pots can reducechain. As predators, they help to control populations of terrapin mortality by 73.2%. Regulatory change Where to See Diamondbackprey items, such as dwarf surf clams, marsh periwinkles requiring BRDs on commercial and recreational crab Terrapins in the Tampa Bay Regionand small species of crabs. Terrapins and their eggs are pots used in Florida waters would be the greatestknown to be eaten by many predators, including skunks, immediate conservation action that could be Although you might encounter a diamondback terrapinraccoons, foxes, otters, crows, laughing gulls, and ghost implemented by the Florida Fish and Wildlife in many brackish water habitats throughout the Tampacrabs. Conservation Commission. In addition, abandoned Bay region, they are a very secretive and cryptic or lost traps continue to capture wildlife. Support of species. To see a terrapin up-close, you might considerDespite the importance of Florida to diamondback derelict crab pot removal programs and participation in visiting one of the following facilities.terrapin biology, little is known concerning this species such efforts will save terrapins and other species.over long stretches of Florida coastline. Secretive and Florida Aquariumcryptic, diamondback terrapins are unknown to many Several other anthropogenic threats (encounters with (www.flaquarium.org)Floridians. Without public awareness and support, there automobiles, boat strikes, non-native species, pollution,is little hope for this flagship species for coastal oil spills, and global climate change) are also known to Tampa’s Lowry Park Zooconservation. affect terrapins. While each threat alone is of concern, there is an even greater concern regarding their ability (www.lowryparkzoo.com) to work in negative synergy. It should be known, however, that each of these conservation challenges Upper Tampa Bay ParkFor more information, please visit the website of the comes along with a conservation opportunity. It’s what (www.hillsboroughcounty.org/parks/resources/forms/Diamondback Terrapin Working Group (www.dtwg.org). we do with that opportunity that can make a difference. parkservices/trails96.pdf)
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