Basking is an essential behavior for thermoregulation in turtles. Although basking is widely studied, this behavior varies among populations, habitats, and microclimates. In this study, we evaluated the effectiveness of game cameras for studying basking activity of Rio Grande Cooter (Pseudemys gorzugi), a New Mexico state-threatened species. From August 2018 to July 2019, images were taken hourly from 07:00 to 19:00 at 3 locations along or near the Black River, New Mexico. We used a generalized linear mixed-effect model to find associations between basking patterns and environmental variables. The species was active year-round, with the greatest number of basking turtles in spring. Basking activity was significantly correlated with water temperature, season, light intensity, difference between water and air temperatures, and time of day. Game cameras were effective for long-term monitoring of turtles in this study. This method was noninvasive and created low disturbances while providing high-resolution data. Overall, this study provides a deeper understanding of the basking habits of P. gorzugi as well as its activity periods across seasons, which can also aid in determining an appropriate time for conducting visual surveys of the species in southeastern New Mexico.
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