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Using passive integrated transponder (PIT) systems for terrestrial detection of blue-spotted salamanders (Ambystoma laterale) in situ

July 1, 2014

Pure-diploid Blue-spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma laterale) are the smallest members of the family Ambystomatidae which makes tracking with radio-transmitters difficult because of small battery capacity. Passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags provide another tracking approach for small fossorial animals such as salamanders. We evaluated the use of portable PIT tag readers (PIT packs) to detect PIT tag-implanted pure-diploid Blue-spotted Salamanders in situ. We also examined the detection probability of salamanders with PIT tags held in enclosures in wetland and terrestrial habitats, as well as the underground detection range of PIT packs by scanning for buried tags not implanted into salamanders. Of the 532 PIT tagged salamanders, we detected 6.84% at least once during scanning surveys. We scanned systematically within a 13.37 ha area surrounding a salamander breeding pool on 34 occasions (~119 hours of survey time) and detected PIT tags 74 times. We detected 55% of PITs in tagged salamanders and 45%were expelled tags. We were able to reliably detect buried PIT tags from 1–22cm below the ground surface. Because nearly half the locations represented expelled tags, our data suggest this technique is inappropriate for future studies of pure-diploid Blue-spotted Salamanders, although it may be suitable for polyploid Blue-spotted Salamanders and other ambystomatid species, which are larger in size and may exhibit higher tag retention rates. It may also be prudent to conduct long-term tag retention studies in captivity before tagging and releasing salamanders for in situ study, and to double-mark individuals.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2014
Title Using passive integrated transponder (PIT) systems for terrestrial detection of blue-spotted salamanders (Ambystoma laterale) in situ
DOI
Authors Kevin J. Ryan, Joseph D. Zydlewski, Aram J.K. Calhoun
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Herpetological Conservation and Biology
Series Number
Index ID 70193806
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Leetown

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