Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Agricultural, Environmental, and Sustainability Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Abdullah F. Rahman

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard J. Kline

Third Advisor

Dr. MD Saydur Rahman


The Rio Grande Cooter, Pseudemys gorzugi, is an understudied aquatic turtle species of conservation concern in the Rio Grande, Pecos, and Devils river systems. Traditional sampling methodologies for aquatic turtle species face numerous challenges, but novel sampling methodologies, such as drone-based surveys and environmental DNA analysis, may address these issues. This study compared novel sampling methodologies to traditional sampling methodologies in mean detections and identifications of aquatic turtle species, developed and implemented an environmental DNA assay to detect P. gorzugi, and characterized P. gorzugi habitat. Following an introductory chapter, each task is addressed by chapter and formatted to meet Biological Conservation guidelines. Novel sampling technologies were successful in detecting and identifying aquatic turtle species and we recommend implementation of these methodologies as a survey tool for aquatic turtle species. Additional studies should be undertaken to further evaluate P. gorzugi populations to better inform conservation and management decisions.


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