Using baited remote underwater videos to survey freshwater turtles

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Austral Ecology, 2023, 48, (8), pp. 1506-1515
Issue Date:
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New and innovative techniques utilizing underwater cameras have the potential to track changes in turtle populations whilst being less invasive and time intensive than traditional trapping surveys. In this study, we trialled the use of Baited Remote Underwater Videos (BRUVs) in five upland streams to test if BRUVs could be used for abundance, size and sex estimates of freshwater turtles. We also compared BRUVs to cathedral traps and identified key considerations for future use of this method, such as whether the time of day influenced results. Our study successfully detected 83 turtles from 52 h of footage and identified all species known to occur in the study area. The deployment time did not significantly influence relative abundance. BRUVs also produced statistically similar catch per unit effort estimates to cathedral trapping techniques. No small turtles (i.e. juveniles) were detected, and difficulties with visibility, sex accuracy and carapace measurements are discussed for future BRUV use. Our study shows that BRUVs are a useful, time effective, non-invasive technique to collect relative abundance and species richness estimates for freshwater turtles.
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