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Effects of miniature transponders on physiological stress, locomotor activity, growth and survival in small lizards

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The marking of small animals for long-term ecological studies requires unambiguous and permanent techniques that cause minimal harm. Toe-clipping is frequently used to identify small lizards in the field, but it has been suggested that passive integrated transponders (PIT tags) should be preferred. Here, we evaluate the costs and benefits of new miniature PIT tags to mark the common lizard (Zootoca vivipara). Our protocol enables permanent marking of lizards as small as 1.3 grams with maximal implantation success in the abdominal cavity. Tag injection caused no observable increase in plasma corticosterone levels over five days and no negative effects on long-term growth and survival. However, tag injection had negative effects on locomotor activity during at least 7 days, possibly implying pain. Continuous research to improve tag implantation is needed because negative effects may be caused by anaesthesia and injection rather the tag retention itself. This study demonstrates the utility of combining physiological, behavioural and life history measurements to assess marking stress and pain in animals.

Affiliations: 1: CNRS/UPMC/ENS, UMR 7625, Laboratoire Ecologie & Evolution, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, 7 Quai St. Bernard, 75005, Paris, France, CNRS, UMS 3194, CEREEP-Ecotron Ile-de-France, Ecole Normale Supérieure, 78 rue du Château, 77140 St Pierre les Nemours;, Email: galliard@biologie.ens.fr; 2: CNRS/UPMC/ENS, UMR 7625, Laboratoire Ecologie & Evolution, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, 7 Quai St. Bernard, 75005, Paris, France; 3: Nonatec, Lutronic International, 1 rue de L'Industrie, L4830 Rodange, Luxembourg; 4: CNRS, UMS 3194, CEREEP-Ecotron Ile-de-France, Ecole Normale Supérieure, 78 rue du Château, 77140 St Pierre les Nemours

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/content/journals/10.1163/017353710x552371
2011-04-01
2016-12-08

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