Marking techniques in the Marbled Newt (Triturus marmoratus): PIT-Tag and tracking device implant protocols

Hugo Le Chevalier, Olivier Calvez, Albert Martinez-Silvestre, Damien Picard, Sandra Guérin, Francis Isselin-Nondedeu, Alexandre Ribéron, Audrey Trochet


Individual marking has become essential for studying population dynamics and ecological requirements. However, marking small-bodied species such as amphibians is becoming a challenge in the last decades. Amphibian surveys may require to mark manually individuals, using toe clipping, polymers and pigments, or passive integrated transponders (PIT-tags). Even if ethics committees have recently recommend avoiding toe clipping in amphibians, the use of PIT-tags led to controversial results because low tag retention reported in some studies. Here, we describe a protocol of potentially life-long PIT-tag marking in a protected species, the marbled newt Triturus marmoratus. In addition, we also detailed a second procedure of surgery for the implantation of transmitters needed in radio-tracking surveys. During both procedures, we found that the newt phase (either aquatic or terrestrial) strongly affected the anesthesia duration. Indeed, newts in aquatic phase were more quickly anesthetized than newts under terrestrial phase. We then recommend to pay attention of this physiological particularity when performing this kind of procedure. Improving our knowledge on ecological requirements and population dynamics of this species is crucial for management and conservation plans, and could be extended to other large newts.

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