Despite the increasing use of passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags in freshwater mussel research and conservation, there has been no evaluation of the trade-offs in cost and effort between commonly used adhesive types. These factors could be important to consider if tag retention rates do not vary by adhesive, the effects of handling are large, or resources are limited. We modeled and evaluated how material costs and effort function over a range of sample sizes by using field data from the relocation of 3,749 PIT-tagged Clubshell (Pleurobema clava) and Northern Riffleshell (Epioblasma rangiana) in Illinois, 261 Eastern Elliptio (Elliptio complanata) in Maryland, and the release of 99 Cumberland Combshell (Epioblasma brevidens) in Virginia. Each study used externally affixed 12.5-mm, 134.2-kHz PIT tags, but used a different adhesive to encapsulate tags (Illinois, underwater epoxy resin; Maryland, surface-insensitive gel cyanoacrylate; and Virginia, dental cement). We determined the total cost-per-tag-effort (CPTE) after parameterizing cost, quantity required, application time, and time for each adhesive. After accounting for standardized costs of staff time and adhesive, cyanoacrylate was the least costly adhesive to affix, encapsulate, and cure PIT tags on a per mussel basis. Differences in CPTE were small when the number of mussels tagged was low, but they increased by US$2–6 mussel l. A primary goal in mussel projects is reduced stress from aerial exposure. Using underwater epoxy, which requires time above water to cure, can negate this goal and increase costs as it requires more handling effort than cyanoacrylate or dental cement. Nevertheless, more resource-intensive adhesives may still be an appropriate choice when the number of study animals is low. Further study is warranted to understand how our model may vary by adhesive brand, application rate, staffing level, and environmental factors.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||Freshwater Mollusk Biology and Conservation|
|State||Published - 2017|