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Handling times: tagging vs photos, Boreal toads in WY/CO 2020

June 22, 2022

Individual identification is required for investigations that examine population-level changes (e.g., decreased survival, increased disease prevalence) and the mechanisms associated with these changes in wild populations. Such identification generally requires the application of a unique mark, or the documentation of characteristics unique to each individual animal. Marking strategies that minimize handling time (representing stress), and thus minimize impacts to populations, are encouraged from scientific, as well as ethical, perspectives. We used passive integrated transponder (PIT) tagging and photography to individually identify Boreal toads (Anaxyrus boreas boreas) in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado and the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. We measured initial and subsequent handling times for each marking method, in two environments (indoor and field), and evaluated the effect of method and environment on time to mark. We used a two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) to examine differences in initial handling time between marking method (PIT tag or photography) and environment (indoor or field).