Evaluation of a gastric radio tag insertion technique for anadromous river herring

North American Journal of Fisheries Management
By: , and 

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Abstract

Anadromous river herring (alewives Alosa pseudoharengus and blueback herring A. aestivalis ), which constitute a historically and ecologically important component of coastal rivers, have declined precipitously throughout the Atlantic seaboard. Suggested causes of river herring decline include commercial fishing and predation by striped bass Morone saxatilis . Although the causes of this recent trend are poorly understood, river herring are especially vulnerable to adverse impacts during their spring spawning migration. Radiotelemetry is an especially useful method for addressing potential problems encountered during the movement of these fish from the ocean to freshwater. In spite of frequent calls for evaluation of telemetry methods, controlled tests of posttagging effects are rare for alosids and virtually nonexistent for anadromous river herring. We developed a protocol for gastric tagging of anadromous river herring, and we used hatchery and field studies to evaluate behavior, tag placement, stress response, and posttagging mortality. We also compared tagger effects and quantified posttagging upstream movements of fish in the field. In controlled hatchery trials, no fish died at 10 min, 1 h, or 14 d posttagging. No tags were rejected, and only 1 of 35 tags ruptured the gut. In field cages, mortality, plasma cortisol, glucose, and chloride measured at 24 h were similar between tagged and untagged fish. In the field, 12 of 14 fish moved upriver after tagging and spent 114 h on average at upriver sites. Using a variety of approaches, we found no evidence that our tagging protocol adversely affected river herring in comparison with untagged fish that were subjected only to handling and holding. Our protocol, evaluated by comparing responses of tagged and untagged fish under controlled conditions, may be useful in future studies that seek to understand causes of decline for anadromous river herring.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Evaluation of a gastric radio tag insertion technique for anadromous river herring
Series title North American Journal of Fisheries Management
DOI 10.1577/M08-111.1
Volume 29
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher American Fisheries Socety
Contributing office(s) Leetown Science Center
Description 11 p.
First page 367
Last page 377
Country United States
State Massachuetts
Other Geospatial Nemasket River, Ipswich River
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