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Studying Lake Sturgeon Movements in the St. Clair-Detroit River System
Midwest Region, June 16, 2014
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Vemco VR2W Receiver.
Vemco VR2W Receiver. - Photo Credit: Vemco
From left to right: Jennifer Smith (University of Windsor), Andrew Briggs (USFWS) and Lisa Kaulfersch (USGS) holding a lake sturgeon captured during setline assessments on the Detroit River, 2014.
From left to right: Jennifer Smith (University of Windsor), Andrew Briggs (USFWS) and Lisa Kaulfersch (USGS) holding a lake sturgeon captured during setline assessments on the Detroit River, 2014. - Photo Credit: USFWS
Fish biologist James Boase inserting an acoustic transmitter into an adult lake sturgeon.
Fish biologist James Boase inserting an acoustic transmitter into an adult lake sturgeon. - Photo Credit: USFWS

For the past three years, fish biologists from the Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office have implanted lake sturgeon with acoustic transmitters to assess movement throughout the St. Clair – Detroit River System (SCDRS). The SCDRS is home to nearly 40,000 lake sturgeon inhabiting the Detroit River, St. Clair River, and Southern Lake Huron. While genetically, the lake sturgeon population in the SCDRS is considered one population, the movement data collected as a result of this study investigates behavioral patterns that may be unique to the different spawning stocks. Using existing infrastructure through the Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System (GLATOS), the sturgeon implanted in this study can be tracked throughout the Great Lakes for up to 10 years.

 

Lake sturgeon are captured on setlines during the spring spawning season and biological information such as total length, girth, and weight, is recorded from each fish. Adult lake sturgeon, those typically those greater than 1300 mm, are implanted with an acoustic transmitter. The transmitter emits a signal unique to each fish and when that fish passes a receiver submerged in the water (see image), the date and time is recorded. The information can then be used to describe movement between males and females and make comparisons between fish collected from different areas. This year, a total of 40 adult lake sturgeon were implanted in the Detroit River and 57 more in Southern Lake Huron. Over the past three years more than 275 lake sturgeon have been implanted with transmitters as part of this project, making this the largest lake sturgeon telemetry study to date.

This project is part of a multi-faceted effort to learn more about lake sturgeon in the SCDRS. In addition to studying the movements of lake sturgeon, mark-recapture information is used to determine population demographics such as population size and survival. This project is conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, West Virginia University, University of Windsor, and Purdy Fisheries. For more information about lake sturgeon work in the SCDRS please visit the following websites: http://www.huron-erie.org/; http://data.glos.us/glatos/


Contact Info: Justin Chiotti, (248) 891-0087, Justin_Chiotti@fws.gov



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