The sensitivity of fish to a transmitter depends on factors such as environmental conditions, fish morphology, life stage, rearing history, and tag design. However, synthesizing general trends across studies is difficult because each study focuses on a particular performance measure, species, life stage, and transmitter model. These differences motivated us to develop simple metrics that allow effects of transmitters to be compared among different species, populations, or studies. First, we describe how multiple regression analysis can be used to quantify the effect of tag burden (transmitter mass relative to fish mass) on measures of physiological performance. Next, we illustrate how the slope and intercept parameters can be used to calculate two summary statistics: θ, which estimates the tag burden threshold above which the performance of tagged fish begins to decline relative to untagged fish; and k, which measures the percentage change in performance per percentage point increase in tag burden. When θ = 0, k provides a single measure of the tag's effect that can be compared among species, populations, or studies. We apply this analysis to two different experiments that measure the critical swimming speed (U crit) of tagged juvenile Chinook Salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha. In both experiments, U crit declined as tag burden increased, but we found no significant threshold in swimming performance. Estimates of θ ranged from −0.6% to 2.1% among six unique treatment groups, indicating that swimming performance began to decline at a relatively low tag burden. Estimates of k revealed that U crit of tagged fish declined by −2.68% to −4.86% for each 1% increase in tag burden. Both θ and k varied with the tag's antenna configuration, tag implantation method, and posttagging recovery time. Our analytical approach can be used to gain insights across populations to better understand factors affecting the ability of fish to carry a transmitter.
Additional publication details
Comparing effects of transmitters within and among populations: application to swimming performance of juvenile Chinook salmon