Preliminary Proceedings of the 2008 Great Lakes Lake Sturgeon Coordination Meeting

Lake sturgeon headThe 2008 Great Lakes Lake Sturgeon Coordination Meeting was held December 3-4, 2008 in Port Huron, Michigan. Funded by the Great Lakes Fishery Trust.

Great Lakes Lake Sturgeon Coordination Meeting, December 3-4, 2008

Breakout Group Reporting - DRAFT

Research and Information Needs Breakout

Dorsal Fin Group

Information Gaps

  • Early life history - larval drift to yearling stage
  • Early habitat requirements
  • Nursery requirements
  • Factors influencing egg mortality
  • Potential for allee effects at low population densities
  • Imprinting - mechanism or life stage (test with streamside rearing facilities?)
  • Juvenile migration patterns
  • Sturgeon passage at barriers
  • Paired-plant assessment stocking life stages (survival, imprinting, etc)
  • Natural straying rates vs stocked straying rates
  • Impacts of climate change
  • Invasive species, diets changes, growth, etc.
  • Bioenergetics and invasive forage base (compare with natural food sources)
  • Thiaminase high in invasive mussels…is this a problem?
  • Fluctuating water levels / flows
  • Determination of sustainable exploitation rates
  • Investigation of minimum population sizes
  • Investigate carrying capacity
  • How do you measure impact/success of outreach activities?
  • Determine which outreach activities get the biggest impact?
  • Habitat availability and requirements for all life stages
  • Role of hatcheries in recovery
  • Disease (botulism, VHS) investigations
  • Contaminant effects on growth, survival, reproduction
  • Potential lampricide impacts, sea lamprey predation effects


Upper Caudal Fin Group

Research needs

  • Refining and expanding genetic research on LS
  • Critical habitat char. Based on biological and geophysical parameters
  • Fish passage and other engineered mitigations
  • New technology in movement studies
  • Social research on marketability of LS recreational fisheries
  • Determine socio-economic solution to caviar issue
  • Impact of catch and release on LS
  • Determine pre-European settlement LS abundance and range
  • HSI Model
  • Complete toxicological compendium


Lower Caudal Fin Group

Remaining Needs

  • Funding
  • Establish schedule for standardized surveys of populations: important streams surveyed
    every year and other streams surveyed on a 5 year cycle (similar to what the sea lamprey
    program does for lamprey).
  • Definitions need to be clearly defined for things like: sustainable, distinct population,
    healthy population.
  • Education (needed for varied audience; could/should include children, managers,
    congress, etc...)
  • Creating an iconic figure for the great lakes (sturgeon could be the icon for Great Lakes
    restoration - just like the panda for the WWF or the blue goose for the Refuges).


Anal Fin Group

Research Needs:

  • Describe age structure and size of each lake sturgeon population
  • Identify juvenile habitat
  • Develop an index of recruitment and variability of recruitment, e.g. basin-wide juvenile
    index survey
  • Identify ecological role lake sturgeon play in their aquatic community
  • Document role lake sturgeon play in human communities


Ventral Fin Group

Research and Assessment Needs:

  • Standardization of techniques
  • Testing of fish passage devices
  • Post-stocking evaluations
  • Determine habitat characteristics (at high resolution) important for sturgeon
  • Continue determining status of sturgeon rivers
  • Strategic approach to dam building
    o What is the cost?
  • Development of criteria for evaluating populations
  • Identify and understand disease issues facing sturgeon
  • Determine recommended stocking rates
  • Determine relative survival of fish after stocking
  • Understanding ecological role of sturgeon
    o Feeding studies
    o Species interactions at varying abundance of sturgeon
    o Contaminant affects
    o Potential for suppression of mussels, gobies, lamprey, carp, mayfly
    o Compatibility with other introduces species (salmonids, etc.)
  • Determine role of sturgeon that public foresees: pre- and post- education
  • What is public value of sturgeon
  • what % increase in abundance is needed and at what level might conflicts occur?


Pectoral Fin Group

Remaining needs/Questions

  • 1. How do we define “population”? Adults mix in lakes but return to specific rivers
    to spawn.
  • 2. Objectives/goals etc. will depend on the scale of problem (Great Lakes wide vs.
    single population)
  • 3. How do we define restored/healthy versus remnant and in need of help?
  • 4. How do we know when to stop “enhancing” or “restoring” populations?
  • 5. We need to know what we don’t know.
  • 6. Imprinting
  • 7. Genetics
  • 8. Standardized survey techniques and effort.
  • 9. More money!!!
  • 10. Education and Outreach!!!!

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