Effects of coded-wire-tagging on stream-dwelling sea lamprey larvae

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Abstract

The effects of coded wire tagging Sea Lamprey Petromyzon marinus larvae from a known-aged stream-dwelling population were assessed. Tagged larvae were significantly shorter on average than untagged larvae from 3 to 18 months after tagging. However, 30 months after tagging, the length distribution of tagged and untagged larvae did not differ and tagged Sea Lampreys were in better condition (i.e., higher condition factor) and more likely to have undergone metamorphosis than the untagged population. The reason why tagged larvae were more likely to metamorphose is not clear, but the increased likelihood of metamorphosis could have been a compensatory response to the period of slower growth after tagging. Slower growth after tagging was consistent across larval size-classes, so handling and displacement from quality habitat during the early part of the growing season was likely the cause rather than the tag burden. The tag effects observed in this study, if caused by displacement and handling, may be minimized in future studies if tagging is conducted during autumn after growth has concluded for the year.

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Johnson, N. S., Swink, W. D., Dawson, H. A., & Jones, M. L. (2016). Effects of coded-wire-tagging on stream-dwelling sea lamprey larvae. North American Journal of Fisheries Management, 36(5), 1059–1067. https://doi.org/10.1080/02755947.2016.1185058

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