Senior Theses 2005
Bridget Lynn Thornton (2005). Evaluation of PIT (passive
integrated transponder) tagging as a method for tracking the
movements of juvenile common snook,
Faculty advisor:William Szelistowski
Nursery habitat for the juvenile common snook (Centropomus undecimalis) has not been well defined, in part because identification requires long-term tracking of ontogenetic habitat shifts. In this study, PIT (passive integrated transponder) tagging and a remote antenna array are investigated as possible methods for tracking juvenile snook. Juveniles from an estuarine pond and creek system were fitted with PIT tags between June 2004 - January 2005 and an antenna array was placed at the mouth of a creek connecting to the study pond in order to assess movement patterns from August 2004 through January 2005. Some of the tagged snook were caged in situ before release while another group was retained at Mote Marine Laboratory to evaluate the effects of tagging and tag retention. Tagging resulted in 100% retention, low mortality, and few negative behavioral or health effects in the caged field and laboratory groups. The antenna array detected 50.5% of tagged fish, and provided some preliminary ecological information on movement patterns within the pond. First detection occurred quickly for fish tagged throughout the study period, and was generally unrelated to size or month. Last detection occurred over a more variable time, from a few days to several months, suggesting there may be some habitat fidelity. A higher number of detections coincided with the hours around sunrise and sunset. PIT tagging with antenna array monitoring is recommended as a suitable system for tracking juvenile snook in estuarine systems.