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Improving Passive Integrative Transponder Technology for Use at Reclamation Facilities and Challenging Systems.

Project ID: 4427
Principal Investigator: Donald Portz
Research Topic: Fish Passage and Entrainment
Funded Fiscal Years: 2012
Keywords: passive inducive transponder, pit tags, arrays, half-duplex, fish tracking, population monitoring

Research Question

Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tag arrays are a useful tool to identify and track individuals within a large population to monitor movement, track behavior, fish distribution, seasonal migrations, individual growth, population abundance, life stage, life history parameters, juvenile-to-adult survival and return to spawning areas, and survival. Stationary antennas capable of sampling the entire width of streams, diversions, culverts, spillways, intakes, or fish ladders provide water resource managers a cost-effective and relatively inexpensive tool to monitor fish populations and individual fish by a unique number code associated with each tag. While they are adaptable to most natural and regulated environments, there are limitations and challenges to this technology. In this research proposal we would like to expand and improve PIT tag detection technology for use at Reclamation facilities and overcome some of the water quality and environmental interferences that causes loss or reduced detection. New technology learned and applied throughout our study will provide the tools that enable fisheries researchers and managers to address previously unanswerable questions.

Need and Benefit

Real-time, accurate information derived from PIT-tag technology is increasingly critical to Reclamation and water resource stakeholders in monitoring fish losses, developing recovery programs, and assessing the effectiveness of improvements or modifications to enhance survival of fishes. Continued development of PIT-tag technology will enable researchers to address issues expressed in NMFS biological opinions for operation of large diversion and river restoration programs (e.g., Tracy Fish Collection Facility and San Joaquin River Restoration Program).

Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tag arrays are a useful tool to identify and track individuals, monitor movements, track behavior, fish distribution, entrainment, and survival at water diversions, culverts, spillways, intakes, or fish ladders.

PIT tags are inductively charged by the reader and so do not have a battery. Tags can remain operational for decades. Because they lack a battery the tags can be very small (12 x 2.15mm) and therefore small or juvenile fish can be implanted. No radio or acoustic telemetry tag exists that is comparable in size and mass, therefore this tool enable fisheries researchers and managers the ability to address previously unanswerable questions for movements and fates of small fish.

Contributing Partners


Research Products

A report documented the advancements in PIT tag array technology that we have made will be made available to the Research office on September 28, 2012. The technology will be shared with other Federal, state, university, and other fisheries professionals. If local physical and environmental challenges can be overcome we plan to suggest future monitoring at Reclamation facilities with this improvd technology.

This information was last updated on April 19, 2014
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