Telemetry Techniques: A User Guide for Fisheries Research

Section 9.4: Database Management and “Real-Time” Data Analysis Systems for Fish Telemetry Studies

Karl K. English, Dave Robichaud, and Peter Wainwright

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874264.ch21

Radio-telemetry techniques have been used extensively over the past 25 years to study the freshwater migration of many species including salmonids (Eiler et al. 2000). In the 1980s most studies relied upon mobile survey techniques to track tagged fish (Lough 1983). In the 1990s, the use of fixed-station receivers became more common as studies expanded to cover entire watersheds (e.g., Koski et al. 1996). These fixed stations were typically deployed for several months to continuously monitor key locations along rivers (English et al. 2005) or at hydroelectric dams (Keefer et al. 2004). Advancements in tag technology (e.g., uniquely identifiable digitally coded tags; longer battery life; smaller size; lower costs) made it possible for researchers to apply more tags and to work in noisier environments, thereby generating even more data. Concurrently, fisheries managers, dam operators and research teams started requesting in-season summaries of tracking results to assist in their decision making processes. Consequently, the data management and analyses challenges grew substantially through the 1990s. The objective of this Section is to provide readers with an overview of effective database management and real-time analysis systems and present examples showing how these systems have met the typical challenges associated with telemetry studies.

Each telemetry project presents a unique set of challenges. Different study goals result in variability in numbers of tags applied, tagging/release locations, fixed-station receivers and antennas deployed (see Section 9.2). The database management methods described in this paper have been used to successfully organize and analyze fixed-station and mobile tracking data from many studies of juvenile and adult salmonid migration. In these studies, 20–4,000 fish were tagged, 5–56 fixed-station receivers were deployed and the size of the study area has ranged from a single fishway in a hydropower dam to an entire watershed. This database management approach is rigorous yet flexible, and has allowed efficient and timely analyses of ever-increasing amounts of telemetry data.