, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 568-576
Date: 27 Feb 2011

The use of visual and automatized behavioral markers to assess methodologies: a study case on PIT-tagging in the Alpine newt

Abstract

In various research fields, biomarkers are now widely used as tools for assessing individual integrity. The recent advances in quantification methods for behavioral patterns, such as computerized video-tracking procedures, make them valuable biomarkers. However, the corollary of these novelties is that they remain relatively unknown and unused. In this study, we show that such tools can assess the validity of research methods, such as individual recognition. To demonstrate this, we employed, as a model, a marking method (passive integrated transponder [PIT] tagging) widely used in amphibians. Detailed visual observations and video-tracking methods were complementary in highlighting components at different behavioral scales: locomotion, feeding, and breeding. We illustrate the scientific and ethical adequacy of the targeted marking method but also suggest that more studies should integrate behavioral analyses. Such biomarkers are a powerful tool for assessing conservation concerns when other techniques cannot detect detrimental effects.