External tagging does not affect the feeding behavior of a coral reef fish, Chaetodon vagabundus (Pisces: Chaetodontidae)
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Increasingly, the ability to recognize individual fishes is important for studies of population dynamics, ecology, and behavior. Although a variety of methods exist, external tags remain one of the most widely applied because they are both effective and cost efficient. However, a key assumption is that neither the tagging procedure nor the presence of a tag negatively affects the individual. While this has been demonstrated for relatively coarse metrics such as growth and survival, few studies have examined the impact of tags and tagging on more subtle aspects of behavior. We tagged adult vagabond butterflyfish (Chaetodon vagabundus) occupying a 30-ha insular reef in Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea, using a commonly-utilized t-bar anchor tag. We quantified and compared feeding behavior (bite rate), which is sensitive to stress, of tagged and untagged individuals over four separate sampling periods spanning four months post-tagging. Bite rates did not differ between tagged and untagged individuals at each sampling period and, combined with additional anecdotal observations of normal pairing behavior and successful reproduction, suggest that tagging did not adversely affect individuals.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2009. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Environmental Biology of Fishes 86 (2009): 447-450, doi:10.1007/s10641-009-9545-9.
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