Unique among turtles as the only exclusively estuarine species, the diamondback terrapin's (Malaclemys terrapin) life history predisposes it to impacts from humans both on land and in the near-shore environment. Terrapins are found in salt marshes and mangroves along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Massachusetts to Texas. Whereas previous dietary studies have elucidated terrapins' role in temperate salt marsh food webs, food resources for terrapins inhabiting subtropical mangrove habitats have not been studied. We examined dietary resource use for diamondback terrapins in subtropical mangrove creek and island habitats within Everglades National Park, Florida, to determine foraging strategies of terrapins inhabiting south Florida (SF) mangrove systems. Fecal analysis revealed 6 categories of food items, with gastropods, crabs, and bivalves being the dominant food items. Multivariate analysis revealed differences in food sources based on habitat more so than by terrapin size class. Our results revealed that like their counterparts in temperate salt marshes, SF terrapins consume similar prey categories but with different species and abundances comprising each category.
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Vol. 15 • No. 1