Home ranges and Movements of Two Diamondback Terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin macrospilota) in Northwest Florida

Abstract

The diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) is a small estuarine turtle distributed along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the USA that is threatened by drowning in crab pots, road mortality, exploitation in the pet trade, and habitat loss. Little is known about the movement patterns and home ranges of these turtles, particularly along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast. Satellite tags were deployed on two adult female terrapins captured at two distinct sites in Northwest Florida. A first-difference correlated random walk approach was used to determine distances traveled and estimate home range for each individual. The two terrapins were tracked for 146 and 147 days, and the total distance traveled for each terrapin was 70.1 km and 723.0 km, respectively. The maximum distance moved from capture location was 11.3 km and 49.6 km. Home ranges here were much larger than those previously reported in other studies. The movements we documented were greater than expected and indicate habitat protection for this species may need to be expanded to incorporate more distant foraging sites.

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Acknowledgments

We thank biologists (Kathy Gault, Carrie Gindl, David Seay) at Eglin Air Force Base and the Natural Resources Department (Bruce Hagedorn, Justin Johnson) for logistical support.

Disclaimer

Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. This draft manuscript is distributed solely for purposes of scientific peer review. Its content is deliberative and pre-decisional, so it must not be disclosed or released by reviewers. Because the manuscript has not yet been approved for publication by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), it does not represent any official USGS finding or policy.

Funding

This project was funded by the USGS and was conducted under State of Florida Special Use Permit #33447. All turtle handling and sampling was performed according to the Institutional Animal Care Protocol USGS/WARC/GNV 2019-15 and USGS/WARC/GNV 2018-04.

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Correspondence to Margaret M. Lamont.

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Communicated by Kevin M. Boswell

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Lamont, M.M., Johnson, D. & Catizone, D.J. Home ranges and Movements of Two Diamondback Terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin macrospilota) in Northwest Florida. Estuaries and Coasts (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12237-020-00892-0

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Keywords

  • Gulf of Mexico
  • Turtle
  • wetland
  • Satellite telemetry
  • Movements