Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 651–664 | Cite as

A suite of standard post-tagging evaluation metrics can help assess tag retention for field-based fish telemetry research

  • Kayla M. Gerber
  • Martha E. MatherEmail author
  • Joseph M. Smith
Research Paper


Telemetry can inform many scientific and research questions if a context exists for integrating individual studies into the larger body of literature. Creating cumulative distributions of post-tagging evaluation metrics would allow individual researchers to relate their telemetry data to other studies. Widespread reporting of standard metrics is a precursor to the calculation of benchmarks for these distributions (e.g., mean, SD, 95% CI). Here we illustrate five types of standard post-tagging evaluation metrics using acoustically tagged Blue Catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) released into a Kansas reservoir. These metrics included: (1) percent of tagged fish detected overall, (2) percent of tagged fish detected daily using abacus plot data, (3) average number of (and percent of available) receiver sites visited, (4) date of last movement between receiver sites (and percent of tagged fish moving during that time period), and (5) number (and percent) of fish that egressed through exit gates. These metrics were calculated for one to three time periods: early (<10 d), during (weekly), and at the end of the study (5 months). Over three-quarters of our tagged fish were detected early (85%) and at the end (85%) of the study. Using abacus plot data, all tagged fish (100%) were detected at least one day and 96% were detected for > 5 days early in the study. On average, tagged Blue Catfish visited 9 (50%) and 13 (72%) of 18 within-reservoir receivers early and at the end of the study, respectively. At the end of the study, 73% of all tagged fish were detected moving between receivers. Creating statistical benchmarks for individual metrics can provide useful reference points. In addition, combining multiple metrics can inform ecology and research design. Consequently, individual researchers and the field of telemetry research can benefit from widespread, detailed, and standard reporting of post-tagging detection metrics.


Acoustic tag Evaluation metrics Post tagging evaluation metrics Statistical benchmarks Tag retention Telemetry 



This project was funded with Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act monies processed through the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism. This research was administered through the Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit [a cooperation between Kansas State University, the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT), and the Wildlife Management Institute]. We are grateful to everyone from KDWPT who made this project possible. Kristen Ferry, Sarah Pautzke, Cristina Kennedy, and Zach Peterson contributed earlier insights into the tagging process. We thank the Kansas State University Aquatic Group for support and feedback. Tom Mosher, Phil Bettoli, and Hal Schramm commented on previous drafts. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. This research was conducted under the auspices of Kansas State University IACUC Protocols #3151 and 3151.1.

Supplementary material

11160_2017_9484_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (17 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 18 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kayla M. Gerber
    • 1
    • 4
  • Martha E. Mather
    • 2
    Email author
  • Joseph M. Smith
    • 3
  1. 1.Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Division of BiologyKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA
  2. 2.U. S. Geological Survey, Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Division of BiologyKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA
  3. 3.ICFSeattleUSA
  4. 4.Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife ResourcesBowling GreenUSA

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