Marking, Tagging, and Tracking of Fish and Wildlife: Part I

Fish and wildlife tracking data inform how individual organisms and populations distribute locally, utilize habitat, migrate over larger scales, and evolve over time. Technological advances in tracking systems ignite the development of new questions about the ecology of species where previous tools did not exist to address them. Analyzed carefully, tracking data may indicate changes in climate and land use, biodiversity, invasive species, predict spread of diseases or parasites, and correspond to effectiveness of stocking efforts. Tracking measures include utilization of physical marking tags, light-level geolocators, acoustic, radio, satellite, and GPS that enable investigation of spatial ecology and behavior of a variety of terrestrial, aerial and aquatic species. Tagging methods vary by size, price, memory and power capacity, scale, and ease of use. Successful marking and tracking approaches not only involve proper tagging and placement of monitors to detect movements, but also require robust analyses and effective communication of large datasets. This symposium will share technologies, methodologies, findings, analytical approaches, and troubleshooting tips across a broad array of species and objectives to highlight more recent developments and encourage collaboration. We ask that authors submit papers revolving around one or more of the following topics: • Description of novel tagging methods or monitoring approaches • Description of novel combinations of technologies for improved data quality or quantity, including metadata collection • Connection of tracking data to environmental data, such as climate, habitat, or water quality • Explanation and demonstration of useful software for tracking data management and analysis • Explanation and demonstration of robust analytical approaches used with tracking data • Application of tracking data to inform decision-making processes in fish or wildlife policy Abstracts for presentations are solicited from policy and management agencies, fish and wildlife industries, non-governmental organizations, technology-partners, research institutions, citizen-scientists, academia (including students), and other stakeholders.

8:20AM From Toe Tags to Selfies – Where Have We Been, Where Are We Going?
  Arthur Rodgers
Biologists use a myriad of methods to mark, tag and track fish and wildlife. Identification of individuals facilitates determinations of population dynamics (e.g., survival, recruitment), population density, movement and behavior. The methods used are generally species-related and take into consideration animal welfare (i.e., permanent vs non-permanent, invasive vs non-invasive), administrative requirements (e.g., permits, institutional animal care and use approval) and project objectives (e.g., duration of the study, number of individuals to be uniquely identified). Whereas methods of marking and tagging animals have not changed much over the last 50 years, although there have been improvements in materials used and methods of attachment, techniques used to track individuals have changed dramatically. Advances in the use of genetic markers (i.e., DNA), camera technology (e.g., trail cameras, FLIR) and radio-telemetry are especially notable. These developments are largely the result of emergent technologies designed for other purposes. For example, smaller electronic components and batteries, camera resolution and communication networks have all been developed to facilitate cell phone users but have also enabled the advancement of new telemetry systems. I will provide an overview and historic perspective of methods and technologies used in marking, tagging, and tracking of fish and wildlife.
8:40AM The Evolution of Animal Movement Analytics from MCP to Big Data
  Roland Kays
Improving technology has dramatically increased the resolution of tracking data, providing new insights into animal biology while also creating new challenges. Locational accuracy has improved, but temporal resolutions of minutes or seconds are now commonplace. High-res tracks leave less ambiguity about where animals were between points, but data are also highly autocorrelated and problematic for traditional home range measures like kernel density estimates (KDE). Fortunately, new continuous time movement models now account for autocorrelation, allowing for autocorrelated KDEs and estimates of distance moved independent of fix interval. Foraging patterns and habitat-behavior interactions can now be better inferred from movement patterns. Short fix intervals also enable study of interactions between animals often missed in lower resolution tracks. Finally, resource selection models can now be created for individual animals, allowing new questions into habitat preferences of individuals and creation of individual based models. Evolution of the animal tracking field from simple minimum convex polygon (MCP) descriptions of space use to sophisticated Big Data analytics has required the parallel development of improved hardware, data management tools, and software. These advances have also been accompanied by developments of new movement ecology theory and important insights for conservation and management.
9:00AM Dividends Realized in Nevada from Marking, Tagging, and Tracking Fish and Wildlife
  Cody Schroeder
Understanding where, when, and why wildlife were in specific locations is among the earliest pieces of knowledge sought by prehistoric humans, primarily because this would generate food and clothing. Over time, science improved our knowledge through observational studies, rudimentary radiotelemetry tools, and sophisticated satellite telemetry, which has in turn fed advanced, data-hungry analyses. These advances often required reinvestment and repetition of old studies, but the improved information and analytics provided superior insight into how and why wildlife use their space. Nevada now values wildlife for more than the food and clothing they provide, and monitoring of movements include Monarch butterflies, pygmy rabbits, bears, sage grouse, ravens, mountain lions, waterfowl, pronghorn, raptors, bighorn sheep, and mule deer. Mule deer provide an excellent example of how our improved knowledge can influence public safety by reducing collisions with vehicles, influence our well-being by mitigating barriers produced by mineral extraction, and influence our quality of life by movement corridors to ensure wildlife remain on our landscapes. An important mule deer movement corridor is the focus of my presentation.
9:20AM Effects of Riparian Canopy Reduction on Growth Rates of Salmonids and Amphibians in a Small Northern Coastal California Stream
  Trent McDonald, Matthew House, Patrick Righter, David Lamphear
Riparian buffers of small streams in managed forests are designed to shade the stream to moderate high water temperature, and provide stable and complex habitat for aquatic species. We removed up to 50% of the overstory canopy cover in the riparian zone for approximately 1000 feet along one side of a small fish bearing stream in a Northern California managed forest and investigated the growth of salmonid and amphibian species before and after harvest. We conducted eighteen electrofishing and rubble-rousing surveys approximately every other month from August 2014 to February 2018 on the harvested segment and on 350 foot segments above and below the treated segment. We marked salmonids and amphibians with passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags and hence were able to track the growth of individuals over four years and multiple captures. We estimated a one-dimensional Brownian bridge model to account for movements and to apportion growth rates between sampling occasions to stream segments. In this talk, we present estimates of movement and growth rates among the stream segments and discuss the implications of reduced shading on similar small fish bearing streams.
09:40AM Break
1:10PM Joint Analysis of Mark-Recapture and Telemetry Data for Abundance Estimation of Largemouth Bass in Lake Shoreline Habitats
  Troy Farmer, James Bulak, Yoichiro Kanno
Abundance estimates are a key component of fisheries management but can be challenging to conduct in large open lakes and reservoirs. Historically, investigators attempted to use closed population models to estimate abundance in these systems. However, even during short durations, fish may move into and out of the study area violating closure assumptions. Additionally, boat electrofishing only effectively samples fish at water depths <= 2.4 m, meaning deeper habitats may not be effectively sampled. To address these problems, we used a combined telemetry and mark-recapture approach to estimate Largemouth Bass abundance in two coves on Lake Hartwell, SC during springs 2016, 2018. Acoustic telemetry allowed us to estimate the proportion of tagged fish remaining in each cove and the proportion that occupied shallow (< 2.4 m) shoreline habitats. Additionally, we PIT tagged all fish to create individual capture histories. Finally, a Bayesian hierarchical model was fit to both telemetry and mark-recapture data using a dynamic occupancy approach to account for uncertainty related to habitat use, movement, and capture probability. Results indicate similar largemouth bass abundance estimates (medians:195-212; 95% credible intervals:145-302) across coves and years and provide baseline abundance estimates to assess the impact of future habitat enhancements activities.
1:30PM Estimation of Both Natural and Fishing Mortality Via Tag-Recapture Data Enhances Understanding of Population Dynamics: The Case of the Delaware River Spawning Stock of Striped Bass.
  Desmond Kahn
Tagging of striped bass on the Delaware River spawning grounds has been conducted annually since 1995. The stock was officially declared recovered in 1998. Tag analysis included estimation of survival via model weighting using the program MARK and the AIC. We also estimate exploitation rate, u, and total instantaneous mortality, Z. Exploitation is then converted into instantaneous fishing mortality, F. To estimate M, natural mortality rate, we subtract F from Z. Two length categories are analyzed, all fish greater than 457 mm TL and those greater than 711 mm TL. Survival of fish over 457 mm TL declined from over 70% in the mid-1990s to over 50% in the mid-2000s. Survival of fully-recruited fish > 711 mm (28”) TL declined from over 90% in the mid-1990s to over 60% through the 2000s. Although F was higher for fish > 711 mm, M was lower for this category. However, M has increased for fish > 457 mm. Recapture location was dependent on sex. Males were significantly more likely to be recaptured in the estuary (including Chesapeake Bay, connected by a large canal), while females were more likely to be recaptured in the Atlantic near Southern New England or Long Island.
1:50PM Connecting the Dots: Refining Blacktip Shark Movement
  Beth Bowers, Stephen Kajiura
Highly migratory species travel great distances that often encompass multiple political boundaries making management challenging. Blacktip sharks, Carcharhinus limbatus, migrate from mating grounds in Georgia and the Carolinas to overwinter in southeastern Florida. This movement appears to be motivated by temperature and their subsequent departure from southeastern Florida corresponds to the vernal equinox. Seventy years ago, only rare strays were reported north of Cape Hatteras, NC. Since that time, sea surface temperatures have increased 0.85°C. We instrumented 52 blacktip sharks with acoustic transmitters to determine the current migratory pattern. Collaborative acoustic telemetry networks allow researchers to cost effectively track a large number of animals over vast distances but often result in intermittent detections. We employed a correlated random walk model and seasonal hot spot analysis to determine the areas most used by these sharks along the migratory route. High density occurred from New York to Georgia during the summer while Delaware to North Carolina coasts were populated in fall. North Carolina and Florida were densely populated in winter, while spring densities were sporadic throughout Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. The Gulf of Maine is warming at a disproportionate rate and may limit the northern latitudinal thermal refuge of this population.
2:10PM Living on the Edge: Shark Movements in a Category 5 Hurricane
  Grace Casselberry, Andy J. Danylchuk, John T. Finn, Clayton Pollock, Bryan DeAngelis, Gregory Skomal
Studying animal behavior during extreme weather events poses a challenge because these events are difficult to predict. Shark behavior has yet to be studied during hurricane-level storms outside of coastal embayments. Since June, 2013, the spatial ecology of four shark species has been monitored continuously in Buck Island Reef National Monument, St. Croix, USVI, using acoustic telemetry. In late September, 2017, Hurricane Maria passed over St. Croix as a Category 5 hurricane with record-setting wind speed and barometric pressure. In the weeks leading up to and during the hurricane, 15 sharks of four species were detected within the acoustic receiver array, including three lemon (Negprion brevirostris), five Caribbean reef (Carcharhinus perezi), two nurse (Ginglymostoma cirratum), and five tiger (Galeocerdo cuvier) sharks. Spatial network analyses and generalized linear models were used to determine how spatial behavior varied before, during, and after the storm. Preliminary analyses indicate that most individuals restricted their space use and shifted to deep-water receivers at the edge of the continental shelf while the eye of the storm passed closest to St. Croix. Our results indicate that while severe weather events displace sharks, the effects are temporary with most animals resuming normal activities within 24 hours.
2:30PM Synthesis of Acoustic, Biologging, and Machine Learning Methods Enhances Monitoring of Blue Whales from Individual to Population Scales
  William Oestreich, Danelle Cline, David Cade, John Calambokidis, Jeremy Goldbogen, Larry Crowder, John Ryan
Cetaceans comprise some of the most threatened, cryptic, and publicly-recognized marine animals, leading to great scientific, management, and public interest in monitoring their populations. These factors have led to the widespread use of passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) of cetaceans over direct observation, yet questions remain about the utility of PAM for tracking populations. Knowledge gaps in the PAM space include 1) identifying the behavioral context of detected vocalizations; 2) quantifying calling rates of individuals in order to extract population size information; and 3) developing automated methods to analyze long-term PAM datasets. Using endangered blue whales in the Northeast Pacific Ocean as a case study, we present a novel synthesis of passive acoustics, biologging, and machine learning to address these gaps. Specifically, we combine traditional acoustic methods with modern convolutional neural networks to detect and classify different blue whale call types. In the same ecosystem, we identify calling individual blue whales and their associated behaviors and calling rates via a unique biologging platform including acoustic, video, and accelerometry-based instruments. The synthesis of these methods is applicable to a variety of species and geographies and can greatly enhance the utility of a globally growing number of long-term PAM programs.
2:50PM Refreshment Break
3:20PM Passive Integrated Transponder and Radio Telemetry Data Reveal the Effects of Water Management and Climatic Conditions on the Use of Critical Habitat By Endangered Suckers
  Nathan Banet, David A. Hewitt, Alta C. Harris
Radio telemetry and PIT tag detections were used to monitor the use of critical habitat by two federally endangered lakesuckers in the remote watershed of Clear Lake Reservoir, California. We monitored 163 adult Lost River (Deltistes luxatus) and shortnose (Chasmistes brevirostris) suckers during pre-spawning, spawning, and post-spawning time periods over three hydrologically variable water years (2015-2017). Combining active (radio) and passive (PIT) monitoring technologies improved data quantity and refined our understanding of the fate of radio transmitters (e.g., failure, expelled, deposited on piscivorous waterbird colonies). Spatial and temporal distributions of tagged fish were plotted using a combination of software programs, including ArcGIS, AquaTracker, and a novel Python-based tool for rapid evaluation of radio transmitter detections from airplane surveys. Results showed how water management and climatic conditions influence the spatial ecology and spawning success of suckers. When spawning migrations occurred (2016 and 2017), shortnose suckers migrated farther and utilized smaller tributaries whereas Lost River suckers preferred main-stem stream reaches. The management of water control structures in spawning tributaries prevented some suckers from returning to the reservoir. Aligning operation of water control structures with annual variations in climatic conditions may prevent mortalities of suckers in spawning tributaries.
3:40PM Seasonal Post Translocation Movements of Paddlefish in the Alabama River
  Daniel Thomas, Dennis R. DeVries, Russell A. Wright
Dams can impede spawning migrations, and in the Southeast U.S., most dams have no structures such as ladders to allow controlled fish passage. Additionally, tagging of some fishes during migration can result in abandoning spawning (fallback). To assess fallback and quantify effects of translocation on paddlefish, we collected fish during prespawn and spawning periods in the tailrace of the furthest downstream dam to quantify movement of fish after translocation, as well as any seasonal effects. Fish were translocated approximately 6.5 km upriver to the mouth of a small tributary, tagged with a combined acoustic/radio tag, and then released. Manual tracking occurred at 24 hours, 48 hours, one week, and one month post-translocation, and stationary acoustic receivers located throughout the river provided additional movement data. Up-river movement of 16-80.5 km occurred within the first week in 88% of prespawn fish, but only in 58% of spawning fish. Fish in either season not detected up river were found in a back water area at the translocation site, and only one was found in a tributary down river. Our findings support that manually translocating paddlefish represents a viable option for passing fish across a dam during prespawning periods with minimal risk to fallback.
4:00PM Testing the Transferability of Habitat Selection and Species Distribution Models Using Acoustic Telemetry and an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle
  Danielle Haulsee, Matthew Breece, Katherine Hudson, Dewayne Fox, Matthew Oliver
Habitat and species distribution models are often developed on spatially and temporally biased samples and extrapolated to test ecological hypotheses and inform management. However, testing and quantifying the transferability of habitat and species distribution models to new locations and times is a major challenge because of the technical difficulty in obtaining species observations in new locations in a dynamic environment. Here, we use an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) with integrated VEMCO acoustic receivers, to detect the occurrence of the endangered Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhynchus oxyrhynchus) in the South-Atlantic Bight. We compare Atlantic sturgeon occurrence to two habitat selectivity models developed in the Mid-Atlantic Bight; one based on simplified seascapes, and one based on the results of a GAMM. Our analysis shows that Atlantic sturgeon selectivity for seascapes associated with the coastal ocean is transferable across these disparate regions of their range along the East Coast, USA. In addition, we present the utility in using AUVs as mobile telemetry assets for studying habitat selection of acoustically telemetered marine animals. The significant association of the imperiled Atlantic sturgeon with specific seascapes allows managers to integrate this remotely sensed dynamic oceanographic product into future ecosystem-based management strategies.
4:20PM Discussion

Organizers: Michelle L. “Mick” Walsh, Jeff Jenness, Richard D. Methot, Sean M. Lucey, Rebecca M. Krogman, Quinton Phelps
Supported by: AFS Sections: Fish Culture; Fisheries Information and Technology; Marine Fisheries; Fisheries Management; TWS Working Group: Spatial Ecology and Telemetry; American Institute of Fishery Research Biologists

Location: Reno-Sparks CC Date: September 30, 2019 Time: 8:20 am - 5:00 pm