Assessment of the effects of roads and crabbing pressures on diamondback terrapin populations
Grosse, Andrew Michael
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The non-target effects of resource harvest and increasing encroachment on natural habitats due to development place increasing pressure on wildlife. The diamondback terrapin, Malaclemys terrapin, is a “high-priority” species for conservation in Georgia’s coastal habitats. Vehicle-induced mortality is proposed as an important factor contributing to M. terrapin population declines; however, bycatch in crab pots is linked to population declines in other parts of the species’ range. My thesis simultaneously examines the relationships between roads and crabbing pressures on M. terrapin abundance, sex ratio, and age-specific body size in Georgia. I found no relationship between terrapin abundance and road density or proximity; however, I did find a negative relationship between increasing crabbing activity and declining terrapin density among sites. Further, my research suggests crabbing activity is selecting for faster growth among terrapins. These results demonstrate that human activities such as crabbing can impact local abundance and demographics of terrapin populations.