Long-term individual marking of small freshwater fish: the utility of Visual Implant Elastomer tags

Jungwirth, Arne; Balzarini, Valentina; Zöttl, Markus; Salzmann, Andrea; Taborsky, Michael; Frommen, Joachim G. (2019). Long-term individual marking of small freshwater fish: the utility of Visual Implant Elastomer tags. Behavioral ecology and sociobiology, 73(4) Springer-Verlag 10.1007/s00265-019-2659-y

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Tracking wild animals over long periods of time is a non-trivial challenge. This has caused a bias in the availability of individual-based long-term datasets with the majority including birds and mammals. Visual Implant Elastomer (VIE) tags are now a widely used technique that may facilitate the collection of such data for fish and amphibians. However, VIE tags might have important drawbacks. Overall, four potential issues with VIE tags have been proposed: tag loss or misidentification, limited number of individual identifiers, enhanced mortality risk, and effects on intra-specific interactions. Here, we present three experiments in which we investigated these potential problems with VIE tagging in small freshwater fish both in the laboratory and in the wild,using the cooperatively breeding Lake Tanganyika cichlid Neolamprologus pulcher. We find VIE tags to be generally suitable for work with these fish as they did not impair survival, were recognisable up to 2 years after injection, and did not generally disturb group formation. Nevertheless, we identify specific issues of VIE tagging, including colour- and position-dependent variation in tag identification rates, and indications that specific colours may influence social behaviour. Our results demonstrate the suit-ability of VIE tags for long-term studies on small freshwater fish, while also highlighting the need of validating this method carefully for any species and study

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Behavioural Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Zöttl, Markus; Taborsky, Michael and Frommen, Joachim Gerhard

Subjects:

500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)

ISSN:

0340-5443

Publisher:

Springer-Verlag

Language:

English

Submitter:

Niklas Ingvar Paulsson

Date Deposited:

12 Mar 2020 15:25

Last Modified:

12 Mar 2020 15:25

Publisher DOI:

10.1007/s00265-019-2659-y

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.140923

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/140923

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