Faculty in the News In the News

July 22, 2014 at 4:43 pm

WMAR: Maryland Terrapin Population Fighting Development, Predators and Crab Pots

A WMAR report on “Maryland terrapin population fighting development, predators and crab pots” quotes Dr. Willem Roosenburg, Professor of Biological Sciences, on his research on the terrapin.

Diamondback terrapin

Diamondback terrapin

“Diamondback terrapins—the official reptile of Maryland—already have a lot stacked against them,” says the article that tells residents how to install turtle-excluder devices on their crab pots.

Still, it’s hard to get a clear picture of where the species’ population stands statewide today, Smith said.

In some areas—such as the Patuxent River—it’s taken a nosedive.

Willem Roosenburg, a scientist with Ohio University’s Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Studies, has been studying Maryland’s population for 22 years. For the last 15 years, the number of adult female diamondback terrapins in the Patuxent River has declined about 75 percent, Roosenburg said.

But head east to Poplar Island on the Eastern Shore, and it’s a different story.

“The population is increasing at a very rapid rate,” Roosenburg said.

The main reason, he said, could be due to the island’s isolation. It’s not being developed as quickly as the Patuxent River watershed, and there are fewer raccoons, foxes and other predators roaming the island.

Roosenburg still encourages recreational crabbers to install TEDs on their pots.
“Without the use of these devices, the mortality rate of turtles can be very high,” he said.

See the entire article.

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