Diamondback Terrapin - Conservation Action Progress

The 2005 Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS) for South Carolina contained a species profile that summarized the state of knowledge for diamondback terrapins at that time. The species profile also included 23 recommended conservation actions which fell under the general categories of data collection (8 actions), mortality mitigation (9 actions), collaboration development and outreach (4 actions), and legislative change (2 actions).

Through 2013, considerable progress was made with regards to four conservation actions, notably the prohibition of a commercial fishery in 2006, implementation of an abandoned crab trap program for recycling as oyster reef substrate, participation in the Diamondback Terrapin Working Group, and subsequent increased collaboration with local partners such as the South Carolina Aquarium, which launched a Diamondback Terrapin Preservation Project in 2007 to promote the use of by-catch reduction devices (BRDs) in recreational crab traps.

The pace of terrapin research and conservation activities ramped up in 2013 when an acoustic telemetry study was initiated to monitor river vs. creek habitat use in order to evaluate the use of a trammel net data set for monitoring state-wide catch rate trends since 1995. Two additional studies began a year later to (a) improve the effectiveness of BRDs for reducing diamondback terrapin catch without reducing crab catch, and (b) develop a captive rearing program and subsequently evaluate seasonal habitat preferences for young-of-the-year diamondback terrapins.

Building upon the 2005 Species Profile, the table below was created in 2014 to assess, in relative terms, the extent of knowledge for various aspects of diamondback terrapin biology and ecology in South Carolina. The purpose of this matrix is to identify categories with insufficient data and/or mitigation progress in order to improve those deficiencies through future emphasis. Although categories identified as 'good' (green) are not synonymous with 'no new data needed', efforts devoted to categories with moderate progress (yellow) or insufficient progress and/or extremely limited data (red) would be most beneficial. This matrix is intended to serve as a general guide for systematically, over the next decade or more, improving the state of knowledge and management of diamondback terrapins in South Carolina.

Category Metric Eggs Hatchlings Juveniles Adults
Habitat Requirements Foraging n/a      
Nesting n/a n/a n/a  
In-water population Relative abundance n/a      
Survival n/a      
Distribution n/a      
Age or size structure n/a      
Sex ratio        
Nesting Annual nest counts n/a n/a n/a  
Clutch size   n/a n/a  
Clutch frequency   n/a n/a  
Hatching Success, Emergence   n/a n/a n/a
Health Clinical assessment        
Injury characterization        
Conservation Actions Egg salvage, roads   n/a n/a n/a
Care for wounded terrapins n/a      
Reducing crab trap mortality n/a      
Reducing Road Mortality n/a   n/a