Tagging tadpoles: retention rates and impacts of visible implant elastomer (VIE) tags from the larval to adult amphibian stages
Population demographics for amphibian larvae are rarely estimated due to marking technique limitations on small body size, morphological change (metamorphosis), and the associated habitat changes (aquatic to terrestrial environments). A technique that may meet some of these limitations is visible implant elastomer (VIE) tagging. In this study, we report on the efficacy of VIE tagging a tree frog (Hylidae) at the tadpole stage for cohort identification across metamorphosis to the adult stage, in a field environment. During our preliminary captive trial, post-metamorphosis tag retention was 100% over three months, with no adverse effects observed on survival, growth or time to metamorphosis. During our field study tag retention in recaptured Litoria aurea was 95% for tadpoles and 88% across metamorphosis. By 200 days post-tagging, retention declined to 75% in the adult stage and stabilised around 50% by 300 days. Post metamorphosis the retention rate was less reliable and dependent upon sex and life-stage. Females showed the highest retention rate (max. 62%, 760 days post tagging), followed by juveniles (max. 45%, 400 days post tagging) and males (max. 20%, 760 days post tagging). We conclude that VIE tagging is a viable method for studying cohort larval movements and population demographics of amphibians up to a 50 day post-metamorphosis stage.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: July 1, 2015
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- The Herpetological Journal is an international scientific journal that publishes papers on the natural history of amphibians and reptiles. Experimental, observational and theoretical studies are published along with reviews and book reviews. Faunistic lists, letters and results of general surveys are not published unless they shed light on herpetological problems of wider significance.
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