The effect of toe-clipping on the survival of gecko and skink species

Marion Hoehn, Klaus Henle, Bernd GRUBER

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    4 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Ethics committees that are required to oversee research activities involving the capture and handling of wild animals tend to take a cautious attitude because little has been published that quantifies their effects on animals. However, to address questions in ecology and evolution, it is often essential to be able to identify individual animals. Toeclipping is one of the most commonly used marking techniques for individual identification of amphibians and reptiles. The effects of toe-clipping on survival have not been well studied. We used Cormack-Jolly-Seber mark-recapture models to estimate apparent survival (F) and the recapture probability (p) of an arboreal gecko species (Gehyra variegata) and a ground dwelling skink (Morethia boulengeri). We captured 551 geckos and 359 skinks over 12 y, individually marked them by clipping 1–7 toes, and we classified them as juvenile, sub-adult, or adult (stage). In G. variegata, the most parsimonious model included stage as the only factor affecting survival and year affecting capture probability. The best supported model that included the number of toes as a covariate was less than half as likely (¿QAICc = 2.02) but still had a weight of 0.2. Hence, there is a probability that the number of toes clipped had an effect on survival, with the number of toes negatively affecting survival in juveniles and subadults. In M. boulengeri, the most parsimonious model was constant apparent survival rates and capture probabilities. There was no evidence of an effect of the number of toes clipped on survival probability.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)242-254
    Number of pages13
    JournalHerpetological Conservation and Biology
    Volume10
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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    Scincidae
    Gekkonidae
    ethics
    wild animals
    arboreal species
    committees
    reptiles
    amphibians
    animals
    animal
    survival rate
    effect
    reptile
    amphibian
    ecology

    Cite this

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    title = "The effect of toe-clipping on the survival of gecko and skink species",
    abstract = "Ethics committees that are required to oversee research activities involving the capture and handling of wild animals tend to take a cautious attitude because little has been published that quantifies their effects on animals. However, to address questions in ecology and evolution, it is often essential to be able to identify individual animals. Toeclipping is one of the most commonly used marking techniques for individual identification of amphibians and reptiles. The effects of toe-clipping on survival have not been well studied. We used Cormack-Jolly-Seber mark-recapture models to estimate apparent survival (F) and the recapture probability (p) of an arboreal gecko species (Gehyra variegata) and a ground dwelling skink (Morethia boulengeri). We captured 551 geckos and 359 skinks over 12 y, individually marked them by clipping 1–7 toes, and we classified them as juvenile, sub-adult, or adult (stage). In G. variegata, the most parsimonious model included stage as the only factor affecting survival and year affecting capture probability. The best supported model that included the number of toes as a covariate was less than half as likely (¿QAICc = 2.02) but still had a weight of 0.2. Hence, there is a probability that the number of toes clipped had an effect on survival, with the number of toes negatively affecting survival in juveniles and subadults. In M. boulengeri, the most parsimonious model was constant apparent survival rates and capture probabilities. There was no evidence of an effect of the number of toes clipped on survival probability.",
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    The effect of toe-clipping on the survival of gecko and skink species. / Hoehn, Marion; Henle, Klaus; GRUBER, Bernd.

    In: Herpetological Conservation and Biology, Vol. 10, No. 1, 2015, p. 242-254.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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    AU - Henle, Klaus

    AU - GRUBER, Bernd

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