UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Best practice recommendations for the use of fully implanted telemetry devices in pinnipeds Horning, Markus; Haulena, Martin; Tuomi, Pamela A; Mellish, Jo-Ann E; Goertz, Caroline E; Woodie, Kathleen; Berngartt, Rachel K; Johnson, Shawn; Shuert, Courtney R; Walker, Kristen A; Skinner, John P; Boveng, Peter L


Electronic telemetry devices have enabled many novel and important data collection and experimental opportunities for difficult to observe species. Externally attached devices have limited retention and may affect thermoregulation, energetics, social and reproductive behavior, visibility, predation risk and entanglement. Internally placed, surgically implanted devices can mitigate some of these effects and may open additional experimental opportunities. However, improper implementation can significantly affect animals and data. From a review of recent studies using fully implanted tags and studying their effects, we present 15 specific best practice recommendations for the use of such tags in pinnipeds. Recommendations address issues including device size, coating and sterilization, implantation surgery and effect assessment, within the framework of the Three R’s: Reduction, Refinement, Replacement. While developed for pinnipeds, these recommendations could apply to other aquatic mammals and vertebrates and to partially implanted or even external tags.

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