Journal Article

Improved techniques for studying the temporal and spatial behavior of fish in a fixed location

John E Ehrenberg and Tracey W Steig

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 60, issue 3, pages 700-706
Published in print January 2003 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2003 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
Improved techniques for studying the temporal and spatial behavior of fish in a fixed location

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  • Environmental Science
  • Marine and Estuarine Biology


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There are many situations when it is important to know accurately the behavior of fish as a function of time and space in a fixed, three-dimensional volume. One example is the optimal design of techniques that minimize the mortality of fish approaching hydroelectric dams or the cooling intakes of a power plant. The behavior of fish in other fixed volumes, such as estuaries and open rivers, is also of interest in the case of many migrating fish stocks. Both active (echosounding) and passive systems based on acoustic-emitting tags implanted in fish have been used to collect behavioral data. Active acoustic systems, including those with electronically and mechanically steered beams, only insonify a small part of the total volume of interest at any given time. Tag systems, on the other hand, can be used to monitor the behavior of tagged fish over the entire volume. A number of advances in the implementation, deployment, and analysis of acoustic-tag systems have been made over the past few years. These improvements include techniques for positioning optimally the receiving hydrophones to minimize the location measurement errors, the development of acoustic-signal waveforms that provide both unique target identification and accurate location estimates, and the development of tracking algorithms that associate and track the multiple returns from an individual fish. These various techniques are described. Guidelines are presented for selecting the various parameters for the tag system, including the positions of the hydrophones. Specific examples that compare the predicted and actual performance of the tag systems are described.

Keywords: acoustic tags; fish behavior; fish movement; fish tracking; position accuracy

Journal Article.  3358 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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