Passive integrated transponder tags: Review of studies on warmwater fishes with notes on additional species

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Abstract

Although numerous studies have assessed retention and survival of passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags, data are scattered and information gaps remain for many diminutive fishes. Our study objectives were to 1) systematically review PIT tag studies and summarize retention, growth, and survival data for warmwater fishes; and 2) conduct a laboratory study to evaluate the retention, survival, and growth effects of intracoelomic-placed, half duplex PIT tags on six small-bodied species common to warmwater streams. Our systematic review suggested small sample sizes were common within PIT tag retention and survival studies (39% with n ≤ 20) and that many experiments (15%, 14 of 97) failed to use control fish as part of their evaluations. Studies focused primarily on short-term changes (15 d to 2 y) in tag retention and survival. Tag retention was equal to or greater than 90% in 85% of the experiments reviewed and median survival was 92%. Growth was reported by fishes in the majority of reviewed studies. We found similar results after PIT tagging (peritoneum tagging using 12- or 23-mm half duplex tags) adult Cardinal Shiner Luxilus cardinalis, Central Stoneroller Campostoma annomalum, Greenside Darter Etheostoma blennioides, Orangethroat Darter Etheostoma spectabile, Slender Madtom Noturus exilis, and juvenile Smallmouth Bass Micropterus dolomieu. Tag retention for all species was high, with only one tag loss recorded after 60 d. Survival was also high (≤88%) for all of our species with the exception of Orangethroat Darter (56% survival). No significant difference in mean growth between treatment and control groups was found. Both our results and the findings of the literature review suggested generally high tag retention and low mortality in tagged fishes (across 31 species reviewed). However, within our study (e.g., Orangethroat Darter) and from the literature, examples of negative effects of PIT tagging on fishes were apparent, suggesting methodological testing is prudent before using PIT tags in field studies. We suggest future studies would benefit from addressing the behavioral implications that may be associated with tagging and examination of longer-term tag retention. Furthermore, standard reporting (i.e., sample sizes) in PIT tag studies would be beneficial, and use of control subjects or groups for statistical comparisons is needed.

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Musselman, W. C., Worthington, T. A., Mouser, J., Williams, D. M., & Brewer, S. K. (2017). Passive integrated transponder tags: Review of studies on warmwater fishes with notes on additional species. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management, 8(2), 353–364. https://doi.org/10.3996/122016-JFWM-091

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