A whole-lake acoustic telemetry array was utilized to monitor the three-dimensional position of 20 largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides). Code division multiple access (CDMA) technology enabled the simultaneous monitoring of the 20 transmitters (equipped with pressure and temperature sensors) at 15 s intervals with sub-meter accuracy. Fish were monitored between November 2003 and April 2004 to evaluate the behaviour of fish across different temporal and spatial scales. The distance moved by largemouth bass, assessed both on a daily and hourly basis, varied by season and was positively correlated with water temperature. For example, daily movement rates were 2.69 ± 1.45 km/day in mid November (average daily water temperature 5.9°C), 2.24 ± 0.73 km/day in early January (5.1°C), and 7.28 ± 2.62 km/day in mid April (7.7°C). Interestingly, daily movement rates varied by as much as 25 fold among individual fish. Visualization of fish swimming paths revealed that whereas some fish occupied discrete areas and made only localized movements, other individuals made lengthier journeys covering much of the lake in periods of as little as one day. Analysis of fish behaviour at a finer temporal scale revealed that during the winter, fish spend more than 95% of their time swimming at speeds less than 0.1 m/s (0.07 ± 0.24 m/s). During late fall, and especially in spring, swimming speeds were higher with mean swimming speeds of 0.11 ± 0.27 m/s and 0.19 ± 0.29 m/s, respectively. When the telemetry dataset was queried to simulate 24 h manual tracking intervals, it was clear that manual tracking data would not have been representative of actual daily movement rates, underestimating daily movement and swimming speeds by at least 75 fold. This study identifies the importance of evaluating fish activity at multiple spatial (whole lake to sub-meter position) and temporal (seasonal to seconds) scales and illustrates the potential of CDMA telemetry to yield such data.
CDMA acoustic telemetry system tracked movement of fish, angled individual fish and PIT tagged