Section: Ecology
Topic: Ecology

Methods for tagging an ectoparasite, the salmon louse Lepeophtheirus salmonis

10.24072/pcjournal.361 - Peer Community Journal, Volume 4 (2024), article no. e4.

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Monitoring individuals within populations is a cornerstone in evolutionary ecology, yet individual tracking of invertebrates and particularly parasitic organisms remains rare. To address this gap, we describe here a method for attaching radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to individual adult females of a marine ectoparasite, the salmon louse Lepeophtheirus salmonis. Comparing two alternative types of glue, we found that one of them (2-octyl cyanoacrylate, 2oc) gave a significantly higher tag retention rate than the other (ethyl 2-cyanoacrylate, e2c). This glue comparison test also resulted in a higher loss rate of adult ectoparasites from the population where tagging was done using 2oc, but this included males not tagged and thus could also suggest a mere tank effect. Corroborating this, a more extensive analysis using data collected over two years showed no significant difference in mortality after repeated exposure to the 2oc glue, nor did it show any significant effect of the tagging procedure on the reproduction of female salmon lice. The proportion of RFID-tagged individuals followed a negative exponential decline, with tag retention among the living female population generally high. The projected retention was found to be about 88% after 30 days or 80% after 60 days, although one of the four batches of glue used, purchased from a different supplier, appeared to give significantly lower tag retention and with greater initial loss (74% and 60% respectively). Overall, we find that RFID tagging is a simple and effective technology that enables documenting individual life histories for invertebrates of a suitable size, including marine and parasitic species, and that it can be used over long periods of study.

Published online:
DOI: 10.24072/pcjournal.361
Type: Software tool
Keywords: RFID tags, monitoring, individual identification, tagging effects, ectoparasites, parasites, Lepeophtheirus salmonis
Folk, Alexius 1; Mennerat, Adèle 1

1 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Bergen – Bergen, Norway
License: CC-BY 4.0
Copyrights: The authors retain unrestricted copyrights and publishing rights
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Folk, Alexius; Mennerat, Adèle. Methods for tagging an ectoparasite, the salmon louse Lepeophtheirus salmonis. Peer Community Journal, Volume 4 (2024), article  no. e4. doi : 10.24072/pcjournal.361.

Peer reviewed and recommended by PCI : 10.24072/pci.ecology.100585

Conflict of interest of the recommender and peer reviewers:
The recommender in charge of the evaluation of the article and the reviewers declared that they have no conflict of interest (as defined in the code of conduct of PCI) with the authors or with the content of the article.

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