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Road occurrence and mortality of the northern diamondback terrapin

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image of Applied Herpetology

We examined road occurrence and mortality of the northern diamondback terrapin, Malaclemys terrapin terrapin, in the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve during the 2004 nesting season (May-July). Traffic volume estimates were obtained using measuring devices stationed on sections of Great Bay Boulevard, an access road through a salt marsh habitat in Tuckerton, New Jersey. Six hundred adult female terrapin occurrences were recorded, 53 of those being road mortalities (8.83%). A significantly greater proportion of road kills was found in the section of the road with the highest traffic volume. There was also a positive correlation between road kills and increasing traffic volume throughout the day. Approximately half of the road mortalities were discovered in the first survey hour, suggesting that some nesting terrapins were being killed during the night or in the early morning hours. The information gathered suggests that terrapins are attracted to the roadside as it meets the requirements for a suitable nesting habitat.


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