Turtle and Tortoise Newsletter, 2000, 2:17-18
© 2000 by Chelonian Research Foundation

Turtle and Tortoise Newsletter

Terrapin Research Consortium (

Marguerite Whilden
Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources, Fisheries Service, 580 Taylor Ave, Annapolis, MD 21401;

A research advisory group has been convened independent of political, academic, and government organizations to develop sound research, management, and educational standards and to share information in the interest of the diamondback terrapin. Our participants, who come from various disciplines, have a wide range of credentials and are identified by their integrity, dedication, experience, and expertise. The prospect of combining the energies of dedicated individuals has enormous potential, not only for the diamondback terrapin, but also for the larger environmental restoration mission. If we cannot address the smaller, less complicated ecological issues, can we expect the populace to support and finance the larger restoration schemes? The diamondback terrapin can be restored to its historical range and abundance with minor effort if actions are taken now.

The Terrapin Institute and Terrapin Research Consortium are subsidized by the Whitehall Bay Institute, the Tortoise Reserve, and the following individual supporters: Wayne Gilchrest, Member of Congress, Maryland’s First District; Tom Horton, author, The Baltimore Sun; Bill Boyd, exotics vet., advisor to NAIB; David Lee, researcher, Tortoise Reserve International; Robert Evans, waterman, biologist, retailer/wholesaler; Tony Young, waterman, captain; James Sullivan, oceanographer, Agency for International Development; Marguerite Whilden, outreach, resource manager; Roger Wood, Wetland Institute, Stockton College, professor; Kevin Smith, land management, habitat restoration; J. Whit Gibbons, researcher, author, professor; Willem M. Roosenburg, researcher, Ohio University, professor; and Kristen Marie Hart, researcher, Duke University.

The Terrapin Institute and Terrapin Research Consortium Mission Statement
The Terrapin Institute is a consortium of scientists, resource managers, educators, and concerned citizens dedicated to the understanding, persistence, and recovery of diamondback terrapins and other turtles through effective management, thorough research, and public outreach.

Recommendations for Conservation and Management
1) Protect the adult population;
2) Limit the use of shoreline stabilization techniques including bulkheads, rip-rap, and beach grass planting;
3) Promote owner stewardship of nesting sites, and purchase and protect nesting sites with high nesting densities; and
4) Establish education and outreach programs using turtles to teach environmental stewardship and the importance of biodiversity.

Recommendations for Research and Investigation
1) Develop a thorough understanding of population numbers and trends throughout the terrapins’ range, including demographic studies that investigate variation in reproductive rates and survivorship in new areas.
2) Investigate the impact of commercial and recreational fishing practices on terrapin populations, focusing on crab pots, eel pots, and other gear that remains submerged, and evaluate mechanisms to prevent turtle mortality.
3) Identify primary nesting habitat and key physical features of nesting areas that influence the survivorship and sex ratio of developing embryos and hatchlings.
4) Use mathematical modeling to simulate current population trends and the effects of changing birth and death rates within populations.
5) Undertake molecular genetic studies to identify distinct terrapin populations throughout their range.
6) Study the ecology of hatchling and juvenile terrapins, particularly during the first two years of their life, to determine factors that may increase survivorship and to identify the need for habitat protection.

Recommendations for Teaching and Outreach
1) Initiate an education program to promote the use of bycatch reduction devices (BRDs) in both recreational and commercial crab pots—through presentations, displays in public venues, and contact with individuals.
2) Conduct outreach activities for students of all ages using the terrapin and other turtles to teach biodiversity, natural history, and ecology
3) Develop a public facility to promote the research, conservation, and management of terrapins.
4) Train students and researchers in research methods of studying terrapin populations through direct participation in terrapin research.

Further Information
Abstracts of terrapin research, management, and conservation measures will be posted on the Terrapin Institute Web site ( Please notify the author of your activities. Membership opportunities will be available soon, and additional recommendations are welcome.