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Nocturnal basking in freshwater turtles: A global assessment

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McKnight, D. T., Ard, K., Auguste, R. J., Barhadiya, G., Benard, M. F., Boban, P., Dillon, M. L., Downs, C. T., DeGregorio, B. A., Glorioso, B. M., Goodman, R. M., Hird, C., Hollender, E. C., Kennedy, M. S., Kidman, R. A., Massey, A., McGovern, P., Mühlenhaupt, M., Ostovar, K., Podgorski, D., Price, C., Reinke, B. A., Streeting, L. M., Venezia, J., Young, J. and Nordberg, E. J. (2023) Nocturnal basking in freshwater turtles: A global assessment. Global Ecology and Conservation, 43 . e02444. ISSN 2351-9894


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2023.e02444

Publisher URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2351989423000793


Diurnal basking (“sunning”) is common in many ectotherms and is generally thought to be a behavioural mechanism for thermoregulation. Recent studies have reported the occurrence of nocturnal basking in a few distantly-related species of freshwater turtles, but the true extent of this behaviour is unknown, and it may be underreported due to sampling biases (e.g., not surveying for turtles at night). Therefore, we initiated a global, collaborative effort to systematically document and quantify basking activity (diurnal and nocturnal) across a wide range of freshwater turtle species and locations. We conducted camera trap or manual surveys in North America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Seychelles, and Australia. We collected 873,111 trail camera photographs (25,273 hrs of search effort) and obtained data on 29 freshwater turtle species from seven families. Nocturnal basking was documented in 13 species, representing six families (Chelidae, Emydidae, Geoemydidae, Kinosternidae, Pelomedusidae, and Trionychidae), including representatives in Central America, Trinidad and Tobago, Africa, the Seychelles, Asia, and Australia. Nocturnal basking was restricted to tropical and sub-tropical locations, suggesting that environmental temperature plays a role in this behaviour. However, the primary factors driving nocturnal basking are yet to be determined and may vary geographically and by species. The frequency and duration of nocturnal basking varied among species and seasons, but nocturnal basking events were often substantially longer than diurnal events. This is the first study to document a widespread occurrence of nocturnal basking, and our results suggest that nocturnal basking may be a common, although overlooked, aspect of many species’ ecology.

Item Type:Article
Corporate Creators:Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland
Business groups:Biosecurity Queensland
Keywords:Behaviour Chelonian Ecology Thermoregulation Trail cameras
Subjects:Science > Zoology
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agricultural ecology (General)
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Conservation of natural resources
Animal culture > Reptiles
Live Archive:17 Apr 2023 06:42
Last Modified:17 Apr 2023 06:42

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