NANFA-- High Tech Tracking

Jeffrey Fullerton (
Tue, 08 Apr 2003 14:32:15 -0400

> Date: Mon, 7 Apr 2003 13:52:09 -0400
> From: "Todd Crail"
> Subject: Re: NANFA-- TN Collecting
> Are you using transdermal tracking? The local herper guy is using them to
> track spotted turtles (where does he get all those wonderful toys?)... I
> wasn't sure if they were small enough yet to not interfere with a critter
> that small.
> Neat stuff. Kinda scarry if you're worried about the "Cult of Black
> Helicopter" :)

Pit Tagging I presume.
Definitely a good case for buying captive bred herps! It would not look
good if you were a herp dealer or hobbyist and a microchipped specimen
from a study population turned up in your inventory or collection

On the brighter side- this technology augmented by some kind of genetic
fingerprinting could be used to demonstrate ownership of captive breed
stocks of protected species. The ability to tell the difference between
stocks that are legally obtained and documented and those that are fresh
out of the wild. The inability of wildlife officials to distinguish
between the two is the reason there are so many blanket restrictions and
much reluctance to allow people to possess said species - even when
obtained from a legitimate breeder out of state.

I am thinking in terms of herps. Being that they are more delicate,
small fish might be harder to tag safely and I wonder if it would be
practical considering that fish breed much faster than herps and most
breeders would maintain much larger inventories and marking each and
every individual shiner or killifish would be painstakingly difficult
with current technology.

With current technology that is.
But this is just the beginning of the 21st Century. The advances sure to
be made in molecular nanotechnology could make it easy to mark an entire
batch of fish at a hatchery or private breeding facility by simply
inoculating them with some kind of molecular markers that would
harmlessly embed themselves in the body and give it a distinct
signature. Then it will be much easier to establish boundaries that
distingish wild populations which are state property from captive
populations which are privately owned- as well as responsibility for
keeping the latter contained. An even less sophisticated system using
markers to establish ownership and responsibility for pollutants has
already been proposed.

Unlike herps which are more vulnerable to overcollecting (empty habitat
syndrome) the problem with fish is more likely to be that they get into
places where they don't belong. This kind of technology will make it
easier to hold fish farmers and even private hobbyists responsible for
their activities and that would be greater incentive to secure their
facilities and locate them in places where they would be less likely to
have escapes from natural disasters. For example under such a system a
fish culturalist would probably have to cover his operation with an
insurance policy which would likely be more expensive or impossible to
get if his facility were located on a floodplain.

We'll probably see something like this within the next 20 or 30 years.
And I almost forgot to mention what an awesome research tool this tech
will be not to mention the way it's going to revolutionize everything
else- information storage, manufacturing and biomedical applications.

And environemental. Imagine a molecular scale device that can
selectively destroy a specific pathogen or a population of in
intractable invasive exotic without the colateral damage of conventional
antibiotics and pesticides.

Goodbye Round Goby! So long Zebra Mussel! Good riddens Chestnut Blight
and Sudden Oak Death!


> The fear of any commitment beyond one or two years is the
> symptom of disease, signaling a fundamentally hopeless view of
> the future.
> Gerard K. O'Neill -2081: A Hopeful View of the Human Future
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