Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Partial migration and spawning movements of humpback chub in the Little Colorado River are better understood using data from autonomous PIT tag antennas

February 12, 2021

Choosing whether or not to migrate is an important life history decision for many fishes. Here we combine data from physical captures and detections on autonomous passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag antennas to study migration in an endangered fish, the humpback chub (Gila cypha). We develop hidden Markov mark-recapture models with and without antenna detections and find that the model fit without antenna detections misses a large proportion of fish and underestimates migration and survival probabilities. We then assess survival and growth differences associated with life history strategy and migration for different demographic groups (small male, small female, large male, large female). We find large differences in survival according to life history strategy, where residents had much lower over-winter survival than migrants. However, within the migratory life history strategy, survival and growth were similar for active migrants and skipped migrants for all demographic groups. We discuss some common challenges to incorporating detections from autonomous antennas into population models and demonstrate how these data can provide insight about fish movement and life history strategies.