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Methods for estimating detection efficiency and tracking acoustic tags with mobile transect surveys

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Mobile transect surveys were conducted for 5 years in a deep fjord looking for weak acoustic tags, most of which were in dead fishes lying on the seabed. Detection efficiencies were quantified because inferences about fish presence were made from tag detection data but a considerable proportion of tags were not detected. Methods for assessing transect widths using cumulative probabilities of measured perpendicular distances from blind transect lines to triangulated tag locations are described. Three methods for estimating detection efficiencies are presented: fitting attenuation functions to perpendicular distance data, simultaneous use of two receiver systems and test tag surveys. Several factors that influenced these detection efficiencies and ranges are shown, including boat speed, depth of tag, tag type, different hydrophone–receiver systems and variation among individual hydrophones and receivers of the same model. The trade-off between detection efficiency per unit area and area swept is discussed, which is largely based on boat speed during transects. Finally, several methods are suggested for increasing decoding efficiencies in mobile tracking studies when tags are heard but are difficult to decode.

Keywords: acoustic telemetry; detection probability; fish tagging; mobile tracking; transect sampling

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, 2202 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4 Canada

Publication date: 2009-11-01

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