The ability to track individual animals is crucial in many field studies and often requires applying marks to captured individuals. Toe clipping has historically been a standard marking method for wild amphibian populations, but more recent marking methods include visual implant elastomer and photo identification. Unfortunately, few studies have investigated the influence and effectiveness of marking methods for recently metamorphosed individuals and as a result little is known about this life-history phase for most amphibians. Our focus was to explore survival probabilities, mark retention, and mark migration in postmetamorphic Boreal Chorus Frogs (Psuedacris maculata) in a laboratory setting. One hundred forty-seven individuals were assigned randomly to two treatment groups or a control group. Frogs in the first treatment group were marked with visual implant elastomer, while frogs in the second treatment group were toe clipped. Growth and mortality were recorded for one year and resulting data were analyzed using known-fate models in Program MARK. Model selection results suggested that survival probabilities of frogs varied with time and showed some variation among marking treatments. We found that frogs with multiple toes clipped on the same foot had lower survival probabilities than individuals in other treatments, but individuals can be marked by clipping a single toe on two different feet without any mark loss or negative survival effects. Individuals treated with visual implant elastomer had a mark migration rate of 4% and mark loss rate of 6%, and also showed very little negative survival impacts relative to control individuals.
Factors Influencing Survival and Mark Retention in Postmetamorphic Boreal Chorus Frogs
Jennifer E. Swanson, Larissa L. Bailey, Erin Muths, W. Chris Funk; Factors Influencing Survival and Mark Retention in Postmetamorphic Boreal Chorus Frogs. Copeia 1 December 2013; 2013 (4): 670–675. doi: https://doi.org/10.1643/CH-12-129
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