Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type




First Advisor

Ana Carnaval

Second Advisor

Amy Berkov

Third Advisor

Russell Burke


Diamondback terrapin turtles (Malaclemys terrapin) have been culturally and economically important since at least the nineteenth century. However, due to overharvesting, this became a species of conservation concern. While extensive data are available to describe its natural history, some conditions that impact nest predation are poorly understood. In this exploratory study, vegetation type and distance to the high tide line were examined to determine their potential impact on predation of diamondback terrapin nests by raccoons. For that, terrapin scented water was used to construct 50 artificial nests at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. These artificial nests were placed in areas differing in vegetation coverage and distance from the high tide line, and monitored for raccoon predation. While the results were not statistically significant, they do suggest that vegetation density surrounding the nest may be a factor in raccoon predation. This study failed to identify a relationship between nest distance from the high tide line and raccoon predation. This may be worth exploring further given the limitations imposed by the configuration of the landscape at the study site. Future investigations of the relationship between vegetation density and predation should consider possible protective effects of high density vegetation, especially plants like the non-native, thorny beach rose (Rosa rugosa).

This preliminary study was intended to span two seasons. The second season of data collection was not conducted because no research permits were issued during the global COVID- 19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2.



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