A Regional Conservation Strategy for the Northern Diamondback Terrapin is completed

The Regional Conservation Needs (RCN) Grants Program funded project, The Northern Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrpin terrapin) in the Northeastern United States: A Regional Conservation Strategy, was recently completed and is available on the RCN project page.

The Northern diamondback terrapin lives in ponds or marshes along the US Atlantic coast from Massachusetts to the Gulf of Mexico. It is the only turtle species in the US to live exclusively in brackish water. The terrapins face many threats including habitat loss, predation, fisheries issues, road mortality, recreational boating and sea-level rise.

The Northern diamondback terrapin has been identified as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) in the Northeastern State Wildlife Action Plans. The species has been identified by the NE Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (NEPARC) as a species of regional conservation concern.  The species is found in eight states of the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic regions. Though the species may warrant a federal listing assessment, to date there is no federal program or policy for the terrapin; without a federal listing, states are less likely to coordinate regional efforts.

This project was initiated to develop a regional conservation strategy to identify the steps that can be taken to reduce further decline of the terrapin and promote long-term sustainability of the terrapin population in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. The development of a conservation strategy for the Northern Diamondback Terrapin could help guide and coordinat multiple-state laws and policies to protect the species and habitat and possibly reduce the need for a Federal listing assessment.

The objectives of this conservation strategy were to compile existing data on terrapin locations and status by state and region, compile and rank threats to the species within states and regions, and develop strategic conservation actions from the eight Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States.

This conservation strategy provides a region wide effort to understand the terrapin populations, their greatest threats and which management actions should be prioritized. Making this knowledge transparent and easily shared by states should reduce overlapping studies and increase the efficiency of conservation funding.