Does bioelectrical impedance analysis accurately estimate the condition of threatened and endangered desert fish species?

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
By: , and 



Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) is a nonlethal tool with which to estimate the physiological condition of animals that has potential value in research on endangered species. However, the effectiveness of BIA varies by species, the methodology continues to be refined, and incidental mortality rates are unknown. Under laboratory conditions we tested the value of using BIA in addition to morphological measurements such as total length and wet mass to estimate proximate composition (lipid, protein, ash, water, dry mass, energy density) in the endangered Humpback Chub Gila cypha and Bonytail G. elegans and the species of concern Roundtail Chub G. robusta and conducted separate trials to estimate the mortality rates of these sensitive species. Although Humpback and Roundtail Chub exhibited no or low mortality in response to taking BIA measurements versus handling for length and wet-mass measurements, Bonytails exhibited 14% and 47% mortality in the BIA and handling experiments, respectively, indicating that survival following stress is species specific. Derived BIA measurements were included in the best models for most proximate components; however, the added value of BIA as a predictor was marginal except in the absence of accurate wet-mass data. Bioelectrical impedance analysis improved the R2 of the best percentage-based models by no more than 4% relative to models based on morphology. Simulated field conditions indicated that BIA models became increasingly better than morphometric models at estimating proximate composition as the observation error around wet-mass measurements increased. However, since the overall proportion of variance explained by percentage-based models was low and BIA was mostly a redundant predictor, we caution against the use of BIA in field applications for these sensitive fish species.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Does bioelectrical impedance analysis accurately estimate the condition of threatened and endangered desert fish species?
Series title Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
DOI 10.1080/00028487.2017.1302993
Volume 146
Issue 5
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Contributing office(s) Southwest Biological Science Center
Description 15 p.
First page 888
Last page 902
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