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Using measures of reflex impairment and injury to quantify an aquatic organism’s vitality have gained popularity as survival predictors of discarded non-target fisheries catch. To evaluate the robustness of this method with respect to ‘rater’ subjectivity, we tested inter- and intra-rater repeatability and the role of ‘expectation bias’. From video clips, multiple raters determined impairment levels of four reflexes of beam-trawled common sole (Solea solea) intended for discard. Raters had a range of technical experience, including veterinary students, practicing veterinarians, and fisheries scientists. Expectation bias was evaluated by first assessing a rater’s assumption about the effect of air exposure on vitality, then comparing their reflex ratings of the same fish, once when the true air exposure duration was indicated and once when the time was exaggerated (by either 15 or 30 min). Inter-rater repeatability was assessed by having multiple raters evaluate those clips with true air exposure information; and intra- and inter-rater repeatability was determined by having individual raters evaluate a series of duplicated clips, all with true air exposure. Results indicate that inter- and intra-rater repeatability were high (intra-class correlation coefficients of 74% for both), and were not significantly affected by background type nor expectation bias related to assumed impact from prolonged air exposure. This suggests that reflex impairment as a metric for predicting fish survival is robust to involving multiple raters with diverse backgrounds. Bias is potentially more likely to be introduced through subjective reflexes than raters, given that consistency in scoring differed for some reflexes based on rater experience type. This study highlights the need to provide ample training for raters, and that no prior experience is needed to become a reliable rater. Moreover, before implementing reflexes in a vitality study, it is important to evaluate whether the determination of presence/absence is subjective.
Originele taal-2Engels
TijdschriftPloS one
Volume15
Nummer van het tijdschrift2
ISSN1932-6203
DOI's
StatusGepubliceerd - 2020

ID: 17376016