Virginia Institute of Marine Science
The initial discovery in May 2009 of eelgrass (Zostera marina) seeds in fecal samples of wild-caught northern diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin terrapin) was the first field evidence of eelgrass seed ingestion in this species. This finding suggested the potential of terrapins as seed dispersers in eelgrass beds, which we sampled for two additional years (2010 and 2011). Seeds were only found in feces of terrapins captured prior to June 8 in all three years, coinciding with eelgrass seed maturation and release. Numbers of seeds in terrapin feces varied annually and decreased greatly in 2011 after an eelgrass die off in late 2010. The condition of seeds in terrapin feces was viable-mature, germinated, damaged, or immature. Of terrapins captured during time of seed release, 97% were males and juvenile females, both of which had head widths < 30 mm. The fraction of individuals with ingested seeds was 33% for males, 35% for small females, and only 6% for large (mature) females. Probability of seed ingestion decreased exponentially with increasing terrapin head width; only males and small females (head width
SEAGRASS MEADOWS; SALT-MARSH; GROWTH; GERMINATION; MACROPHYTE; INGESTION; TORTOISES; PATTERNS; TURTLES
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Funding provided by Virginia Institute of Marine Science graduate student fellowship (2007-2010) http://www.vims.edu/gateways/prospectivestudents/index.php, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-National Estuarine Research Reserve GRF with Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Virginia (NA10NOS4200026, 2010-2012) http://nerrs.noaa.gov/Fellowship.aspx, National Science Foundations GK-12 PERFECT fellowship (DGE-0840804, 2012-2013) http://www.vims.edu/education/graduate/gk12/, Virginia Sea Grant research grant http://vaseagrant.vims.edu/ and Diamondback Terrapin Working Group research grant (2009) http://www.dtwg.org/. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Tulipani, Diane C. and Lipcius, Romuald N., Evidence of Eelgrass (Zostera marina) Seed Dispersal by Northern Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin terrapin) in Lower Chesapeake Bay (2014). PLOS One, 9(7).