Assessing Acoustic Tagging Effects on Survival, Growth, and Swimming Ability of Juvenile Lake Sturgeon
North American Journal of Fisheries Management
Acoustic telemetry is used to quantify fish movement, ecology, and habitat use and can contribute to assessing the success of species supplementation. In this field, a better understanding of the effects of tag burden (or the impact of an acoustic telemetry tag, which is related to the ratio of tag weight to body weight) is critical to ensure postrelease monitoring. Research on the effects of acoustic tag burden on imperiled fishes at different ontogenic stages, such as juvenile Lake Sturgeon Acipenser fulvescens, is limited. Our study provides key information for the selection of the largest acoustic tag with the greatest battery life possible (taking into account tag burden) to monitor the release success and movements of juvenile Lake Sturgeon stocked for reintroduction. We characterized tag burden effects by examining survival, TL, weight, Fulton's condition factor, and swim performance of individuals. We examined four groups of fish: control (anesthetized and no acoustic tag inserted; n = 24), sham control (anesthetized with incision sutured but no acoustic tag inserted; n = 24), Vemco V8 acoustic tag (2.0 g in air; n = 24), and Vemco V9 tag (4.4 g in air; n = 24). Acoustic tags were inserted into anesthetized fish, and the incision was sutured; tag burden (mean ± SE) ranged from 2.2 ± 0.06% to 4.6 ± 0.10% of total body weight. Results showed that the two tag burden treatments had no significant effects on growth or survival (compared to both control groups) across a 114-d study period and that critical swim speed at 12–20 d postsurgery was not significantly impacted by increasing tag burden. Because neither of the acoustic tag sizes had significant deleterious effects on the metrics studied, we recommend using a larger V9 tag (i.e., the most powerful tag with the longest battery life) for postrelease monitoring of reintroduced juvenile Lake Sturgeon.
McCabe, M. M.; Chiotti, J. A.; Boase, J. C.; Fisk, A. T.; and Pitcher, T. E.. (2019). Assessing Acoustic Tagging Effects on Survival, Growth, and Swimming Ability of Juvenile Lake Sturgeon. North American Journal of Fisheries Management, 39 (3), 574-581.