Skip to main content
Log in

Conducting and interpreting fish telemetry studies: considerations for researchers and resource managers

  • Reviews
  • Published:
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Telemetry is an increasingly common tool for studying the ecology of wild fish, with great potential to provide valuable information for management and conservation. For researchers to conduct a robust telemetry study, many essential considerations exist related to selecting the appropriate tag type, fish capture and tagging methods, tracking protocol, data processing and analyses, and interpretation of findings. For telemetry-derived knowledge to be relevant to managers and policy makers, the research approach must consider management information needs for decision-making, while end users require an understanding of telemetry technology (capabilities and limitations), its application to fisheries research and monitoring (study design), and proper interpretation of results and conclusions (considering the potential for biases and proper recognition of associated uncertainties). To help bridge this gap, we provide a set of considerations and a checklist for researchers to guide them in conducting reliable and management-relevant telemetry studies, and for managers to evaluate the reliability and relevance of telemetry studies so as to better integrate findings into management plans. These considerations include implicit assumptions, technical limitations, ethical and biological realities, analytical merits, and the relevance of study findings to decision-making processes.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1

Similar content being viewed by others


Download references


This work was funded by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission by way of the Science Transfer Committee (to Cooke, Nguyen, Young, Vandergoot and Krueger) and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative appropriations (GL-00E23010). Additional support to Cooke was provided by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canada Research Chairs Program, and Ocean Tracking Network Canada. Brownscombe is supported by a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship and Bonefish and Tarpon Trust. Raby was supported by an NSERC Post-Doctoral Fellowship. This paper is Contribution 58 of the Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System (GLATOS) and is also a product of Ideas OTN. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jacob W. Brownscombe.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Brownscombe, J.W., Lédée, E.J.I., Raby, G.D. et al. Conducting and interpreting fish telemetry studies: considerations for researchers and resource managers. Rev Fish Biol Fisheries 29, 369–400 (2019).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: