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Effects of acoustic tagging on juvenile green sturgeon incision healing, swimming performance, and growth

Abstract

Ultrasonic telemetry is a preferred method for fish-movement studies. Despite surgical tag implantation being the most common method for affixing tags, many studies lack tests addressing the assumption that tagging has no effect on fish performance or survival. The threatened, anadromous green sturgeon, Acipenser medirostris, has little documentation concerning its movements. We evaluated the effects of surgery and tag implantation in juveniles. We compared three groups: tagged fish with dummy transmitters implanted in the peritoneal cavity, sham fish that underwent surgery without tag implantation, and control fish that were handled and anesthetized but did not undergo surgery. We found no differences in growth or critical swimming velocity among groups. Photos of incisions were taken towards the beginning and at the end of the study to assess inflammation and to score each incision for closure and suture retention. Inflammation declined similarly for tagged and sham fish during the study. Ucrit was not related to the extent of inflammation or to post-surgery time. All fish showed healing during the study (ca. 140 day duration) and 10 % of tagged and sham fish showed signs of inflammation by the study end. These results suggest that current ultrasonic surgical tagging methods do not significantly affect the short-term growth or swimming performance of juvenile green sturgeon. Additionally, effects of surgery can be mitigated by minimizing the number of suture entry points and by using rapid-absorbing sutures.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the Ecological Restoration Program of the California Department of Fish and Game for funding this study. We would also like to give special thanks to Joel Van Eenennaam, Serge Doroshov, Jon Reardon, Natalie Ho, Gabriel Singer, Sarah Cocherell, Scott Weber, Robert Coalter, Oliver Patton, Jennifer Yu, and Paul Lutes and Erik Hallen at UC Davis’ Center for Aquatic Biology and Aquaculture for their contributions to this study. We would also like to thank Jamilynn Poletto for her manuscript comments. We would like to thank Neil Willits for statistical advice and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments in improving this manuscript. All handling, care and experimental procedures used were reviewed and approved by the UC Davis Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC Protocol 15545).

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Correspondence to Emily A. Miller.

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Miller, E.A., Froehlich, H.E., Cocherell, D.E. et al. Effects of acoustic tagging on juvenile green sturgeon incision healing, swimming performance, and growth. Environ Biol Fish 97, 647–658 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10641-013-0167-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10641-013-0167-x

Keywords

  • Telemetry
  • Green sturgeon
  • Transmitter implantation
  • Surgery
  • Swimming performance
  • Acipenser medirostris