Since their first use in the mid-1980s, passive integrated transponder devices (PIT tags) have allowed innovative investigations into numerous biological traits of animals. The tiny, coded markers injected into individual animals allow assessment of growth rates, movement patterns, and survivorship for many species in a manner more reliable than traditional approaches of externally marking animals for identification. PIT tags have also been used to confirm the identity of zoo animals, pets, and protected species that have been illegally removed from the wild. New approaches with PIT tags herald advances in physiology and conservation biology, as well as greater understanding of social interactions among individuals in a population. Despite their current limitations, including high purchase cost, low detection distance, and potential tag loss in some circumstances, PIT tags offer many opportunities to unravel animal mysteries that heretofore could not be addressed effectively.
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Vol. 54 • No. 5