Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Portable PIT detector as a new tool for non-disruptively locating individually tagged amphibians in the field: a case study with Pyrenean brook salamanders (Calotriton asper)

J. Cucherousset A E , P. Marty B , L. Pelozuelo C and J.-M. Roussel D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A EcoLab, Laboratoire d’écologie fonctionnelle, UMR 5245 (CNRS-UPS-INPT), Université Paul Sabatier, bât 4R3, 118, route de Narbonne, 31062 Toulouse Cedex 9, France. Present address: School of Conservation Sciences, Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus, Fern Barrow, Poole, Dorset BH12 5BB, UK.

B CBI, UMR 5174 – EDB, Centre Universitaire de Formation et de Recherche J.F. Champollion, Place de Verdun, 81012 Albi Cedex 9, France.

C Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique, UMR 5174, Université Paul Sabatier, bât 4R3,118, route de Narbonne, 31062 Toulouse Cedex 9, France.

D INRA, UMR 985 Ecologie et Santé des Ecosystèmes, F-35042 Rennes, France.

E Corresponding author. Email: jcucherousset@bournemouth.ac.uk

Wildlife Research 35(8) 780-787 https://doi.org/10.1071/WR08074
Submitted: 16 May 2008  Accepted: 16 September 2008   Published: 16 December 2008

Abstract

Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) telemetry has recently been adapted for locating PIT-tagged fish in shallow waters using portable detectors. In the present study, we tested this method for adult amphibians (Pyrenean brook salamanders, Calotriton asper) PIT-tagged with 12-mm transponders in a headwater rocky stream. PIT telemetry performances were compared with a conventional hand-capture method, i.e. visual searching and overturning movable stones in the streambed. The mean efficiency of the portable detector (88.2% ± 5.2, s.e.) was significantly higher than hand-capture (51.1% ± 6.4) and the operator progressed, on average, four times faster. Time efficiencies were, on average, 0.92 (±0.15) and 0.12 (±0.04) adult salamanders per minute with the portable detector and by hand-capture, respectively. The efficiency of the portable detector was negatively correlated with the percentage of large stones on the streambed. The time needed to prospect a section was positively correlated with the abundance of PIT-tagged adult salamanders, spring inlets and undercut banks. Because PIT telemetry is less disruptive than hand-capture for both salamanders and their habitat, it is a promising and non-disruptive method for developing studies on the ecology and management of amphibians in shallow waters.


Acknowledgements

The ‘Direction Départementale de l’Agriculture et de la Forêt’ provided the authorisation to capture, handle and tag the adult salamanders following the French legislation on wild animal welfare, and the ‘Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage’ authorised the access to the ‘Réserve Naturelle d’Orlu’ to perform the study.We thank all the people that contributed to fieldwork, particularly F. Santoul, P. Menaut and P. Defos Du Rau. We are grateful to D. Huteau for technical help with the detector, to S. Blanchet for statistical advice and to R. Céréghino and R. Britton for editing the English version. We thank the ‘Agence de l’Eau’ for supporting this study (n°2006/2151/N°2402006300). We are grateful to three anonymous referees for the constructive comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.


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Appendix 1.  Appendix 1. Variables relating to Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) telemetry and hand-capture performances
NT, the total number of PIT-tagged Pyrenean brook adult salamanders (Calotriton asper); N1, the number of PIT-tagged salamanders located with the portable detector during the first run; TCPIT, the time consumption of the first run (in minutes); EPIT, the efficiency of the portable detector to locate PIT-tagged salamanders (as a percentage); TEPIT, the time efficiency of the portable detector (in PIT-tagged salamanders per minute); N2, the number of PIT-tagged salamanders caught by hand during the second run; TCHAND, the time consumption of the second run (in minutes); EHAND, the efficiency of hand-capture of salamanders (as a percentage); TEHAND, the time efficiency of hand-capture (in PIT-tagged salamanders per minute); N1*, the number of free PIT tags located with the portable detector during the first run; N3*, the number of free PIT tags removed from the substratum during the third run; EPIT*, the efficiency of the portable detector to locate free PIT tags. See details in the Methods section for calculations. n.a., not available
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