Standardizing electrofishing power for boat electrofishing: chapter 14

Edited by:
Scott A. Bonar, Wayne A. Hubert, and David W. Willis



Standardization of electrofishing can help reduced the variability of survey data and potentially reduce injur of fish. Without standardization, differences among collections can be partially attributed to disparities in electrofishing methodology, intensity of the electrical field, and size of the electrical field rather than to disparities in fish abundance, population structure, or fish community composition. Such standardization is critical when electrofishing is used to monitor temporal and spatial changes of fish assemblages in waters with diverse ambient conductivities. In a field study, standardization improved predictability of electrofishing catch rates by about 15% (Burkhardt and Gutreuter 1995). In a laboratory study, standardization of power transfer allowed scientists accurate prediction of control unit settings required to immobilize fish in a wide range of ambient conductivities (Miranda and Dolan 2003). Because electrofishing is an active capture method applied to changing microenvironments that continually distort the electric field and to multiple target species that respond differently to electric fields, complete standardization is not possible with present technology, but standardization of controllable power transferred to fish is advisable.

Standardizing boat electrofishing entails achieving an accepted level of collection consistency by managing various brand factors, including (1) the temporal and spatial distribution of sampling effort, (2) boat operation, (3) equipment configuration, (4) characteristics of the waveform and energized field, and (5) power transferred to fish. This chapter focuses exclusively on factor 5:L factors 1-4 have been addressed in earlier chapters. Additionally, while the concepts covered in this chapter address boat electrofishing in general, the power settings discussed were developed from tests with primarily warmwater fish communities. Others (see Chapter 9) recommend lower power settings for communities consisting of primarily coldwater fishes. For reviews of basic concepts of electricity, electrofishing theory and systems, fish behavior relative to diverse waveforms, and injury matter, the reader is referred to Novotny (1990), Reynold (1996), and Snyder (2003).

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Book chapter
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Book Chapter
Standardizing electrofishing power for boat electrofishing: chapter 14
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American Fisheries Society
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Bethesda, MD
Contributing office(s):
Mississippi Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
8 p.
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Standard methods for sampling North American freshwater fishes
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