SREL Reprint #2373




Effects of Toe-clipping and PIT-tagging on Growth and Survival in Metamorphic Ambystoma opacum


Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, University of Georgia, P.O. Drawer E, Aiken, South Carolina 29802 USA.

Long-term demographic studies of wild populations require the ability to mark individuals permanently (Ferner, 1979). For many studies, it is imperative that individuals within populations be censused repeatedly over time so that information on growth rates, immigration or dispersal patterns, and population density can be obtained (Jemison et al., 1995). Especially with endangered, threatened, or declining species, a marking system may be of limited or unknown usefulness because the risks of marking individuals have never been determined. Without the ability to monitor marked individuals over time, critical information on the life history and demography of a species is lost. This information may be essential for determining appropriate management alternatives for both abundant and recovering populations.

Ferner (1979) reviewed the common marking techniques used in studies of amphibians and reptiles. An ideal mark or tag should: (1) not affect the survivorship or behavior of the individual, (2) uniquely identify the individual, (3) be permanent over the individual's lifetime (4) be easily discernible, and (5) be easily implemented in both laboratory and field experiments (Ferner, 1979). In addition, use of a tag or mark should be cost-effective and should attempt to limit handling time of an individual.

SREL Reprint #2373

Ott, J.A. and D.E. Scott. 1999. Effects of toe-clipping and PIT-tagging on growth and survival in metamorphic Ambystoma opacum. Journal of Herpetology 33:344-348.


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