Translocations are used increasingly to conserve populations of rare freshwater mussels. Recovery of translocated mussels is essential to accurate assessment of translocation success. We designed an experiment to evaluate the use of passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags to mark and track individual freshwater mussels. We used eastern lampmussels (Lampsilis radiata radiata) as a surrogate for 2 rare mussel species. We assessed internal and external PIT-tag retention in the laboratory and field. Internal tag retention was high (75–100%), and tag rejection occurred primarily during the first 3 wk after tagging. A thin layer of nacre coated internal tags 3 to 4 mo after insertion, suggesting that long-term retention is likely. We released mussels with external PIT tags at 3 field study sites and recaptured them with a PIT pack (mobile interrogation unit) 8 to 10 mo and 21 to 23 mo after release. Numbers of recaptured mussels differed among study sites; however, we found more tagged mussels with the PIT-pack searches with visual confirmation (72–80%) than with visual searches alone (30–47%) at all sites. PIT tags offer improved recapture of translocated mussels and increased accuracy of posttranslocation monitoring.
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