Abstract: Portable radio frequency identification (RFID) PIT tag antenna systems are increasingly being used in studies examining aquatic animal movement, survival, and habitat use, and their design flexibility permits application in a wide variety of settings. We describe the construction, use, and performance of two portable floating RFID PIT tag antenna systems designed to detect fish that were unavailable for recapture using stationary antennas or electrofishing. A raft antenna system was designed to detect and locate PIT-tagged fish in relatively long (i.e., ≥10 km) river reaches, and consisted of two antennas: (1) a horizontal antenna (4 × 1.2 m) installed on the bottom of the raft and used to detect fish in shallower river reaches (<1 m), and (2) a vertical antenna (2.7 × 1.2 m) for detecting fish in deeper pools (≥1 m). Detection distances of the horizontal antenna were between 0.7 and 1.0 m, and detection probability was 0.32 ± 0.02 (mean ± SE) in a field test using rocks marked with 32-mm PIT tags. Detection probability of PIT-tagged fish in the Cache la Poudre River, Colorado, using the raft antenna system, which covered 21% of the wetted area, was 0.14 ± 0.14. A shore-deployed floating antenna (14.6 × 0.6 m), which covered 100% of the wetted area, was designed for use by two operators for detecting and locating PIT-tagged fish in shorter (i.e., <2 km) river reaches. Detection distances of the shore-deployed floating antenna were between 0.7 and 0.8 m, and detection probabilities during field deployment in the St. Vrain River exceeded 0.52. The shore-deployed floating antenna was also used to estimate abundance of PIT-tagged fish. Results suggest that the shore-deployed floating antenna could be used as an alternative to estimating abundance using traditional sampling methods such as electrofishing.
Fetherman, E. R., Avila, B. W., & Winkelman, D. L. (2014). Raft and Floating Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Antenna Systems for Detecting and Estimating Abundance of PIT-tagged Fish in Rivers. North American Journal of Fisheries Management, 34(6), 1065–1077. https://doi.org/10.1080/02755947.2014.943859