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ESR 44:1-10 (2021)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr01086

Suitability of passive integrated transponder tags and a new monitoring technique for at-risk madtoms (Noturus spp.)

David A. Schumann1,4,*, Michael E. Colvin1, Richard L. Campbell1, Matthew D. Wagner2, Daniel E. Schwarz3

1Mississippi State University, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture, Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA
2Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, Jackson, MS 39202, USA
3United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Private John Allen National Fish Hatchery, Tupelo, MS 38804, USA
4Present address: Department of Biology and River Studies Center, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, WI 54601, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Representative indices of population abundance for at-risk species are necessary to inform conservation decision-making. Many madtoms (Noturus spp.) are considered imperiled; however, the efficacy of frequent monitoring efforts has been questioned due to their cryptic and nocturnal behaviors. We systematically evaluated a madtom monitoring tool by (1) evaluating the use of small (8 × 2 mm), surgically implanted 125 kHz passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags for frecklebelly madtom N. munitus and (2) assessing the effectiveness of a radio-frequency identification (RFID)-enhanced artificial cover unit to index madtom abundance. Surgically implanted PIT tags had no apparent influence on madtom survival between 45 and 110 mm total length, and all tags were retained throughout a 21 d laboratory study. In experimental mesocosms, the enhanced cover units confirmed occupancy during nearly all replicates (77.6%), even at extremely low densities (n = 2 madtoms). The enhanced cover units provided representative estimates of madtom relative abundance (p < 0.01), whereas catch per unit effort was not significantly associated with previously validated visual observations (p = 0.12). Although madtom density and the number detected using the enhanced cover units were correlated, the gear was potentially saturated at relatively high densities (~20 fish per mesocosm) when deploying a single unit. In most cases, occupancy was confirmed within 12 h, and nearly half of the individuals were detected within ~72 h. Small PIT tags and RFID-enhanced artificial cover units offer novel opportunities to efficiently describe the ecology and population dynamics of madtoms.


KEY WORDS: Noturus · Frecklebelly madtom · Radio-frequency identification · RFID · Artificial cover units · Conservation · Passive integrated transponder tags


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Cite this article as: Schumann DA, Colvin ME, Campbell RL, Wagner MD, Schwarz DE (2021) Suitability of passive integrated transponder tags and a new monitoring technique for at-risk madtoms (Noturus spp.). Endang Species Res 44:1-10. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr01086

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