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Efforts to conserve endangered species usually involve attempts to define and manage threats at the appropriate scale of population processes. In some species that scale is localized; in others, dispersal and migration link demic units within larger metapopulations. Current conservation strategies for endangered shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) assume the species is river resident, with little to no movement between rivers. However we have found that shortnose sturgeon travel more than 130 km through coastal waters between the largest rivers in Maine. Indeed, acoustic telemetry shows that shortnose sturgeon enter six out of the seven acoustically monitored rivers we have monitored, with over 70% of tagged...
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The imperiled status of sturgeons worldwide places priority on the identification and protection of critical habitats. We assessed the micro-structural and micro-chemical scope for a novel calcified structure, dorsal scutes, to be used for reconstruction of past habitat use and group separation in shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum). Dorsal scutes contained a dual-layered structure composed of a thin multi-layered translucent zone lying dorsally above a thicker multi-layered zone. Banding in the thick multi-layered zone correlated strongly with pectoral fin spine annuli supporting the presence of chronological structuring that could contain a chemical record of past environmental exposure. Trace element...
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Movement of shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) among major river systems in the Gulf of Maine is common and has implications for the management of this endangered species. Directed movements of 61 telemetered individuals monitored between 2010 and 2013 were associated with the river of tagging and individual characteristics. While a small proportion of fish tagged in the Kennebec River moved to the Penobscot River (5%), a much higher proportion of fish tagged in the Penobscot River moved to the Kennebec River (66%), during probable spawning windows. This suggests that Penobscot River fish derive from a migratory contingent within a larger Kennebec River population. Despite this connectivity, fish captured...
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Evidence has become available in this century indicating that populations of the endangered Shortnose Sturgeon Acipenser brevirostrum migrate outside their natal river systems, but the full extent and functional basis of these migrations are not well understood. Between 2007 and 2013, 40 Shortnose Sturgeon captured and tagged in four Gulf of Maine river systems migrated long distances in coastal waters to reach the Kennebec System where their movements were logged by an acoustic receiver array. Twenty-one (20%) of 104 Shortnose Sturgeon tagged in the Penobscot River, two (50%) of four tagged in the Kennebec System, one (50%) of two tagged in the Saco River, and 16 (37%) of 43 tagged in the Merrimack River moved...
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Shortnose Sturgeon = SNS (Acipenser brevirostrum) is a small diadromous species with most populations living in large Atlantic coast rivers and estuaries of North America from New Brunswick, Canada, to GA, USA. There are no naturally landlocked populations, so all populations require access to fresh water and salt water to complete a natural life cycle. The species is amphidromous with use of fresh water and salt water (the estuary) varied across the species range, a pattern that may reflect whether freshwater or saltwater habitats provide optimal foraging and growth conditions. Migration is a dominant behavior during life history, beginning when fish are hatchling free embryos (southern SNS) or larvae (northeastern...
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We developed a hierarchical multistate model to estimate survival of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) smolts in the Penobscot River, USA, over a decade during which two mainstem dams were removed from the catchment. We investigated effects of (i) environmental factors, (ii) rearing history, and (iii) management actions, including dam removal, turbine shutdown, and installation of new powerhouses. Mean ± SD smolt survival per kilometre was higher through free-flowing reaches of the catchment (0.995 ± 0.004·km−1) than through reaches containing dams that remain in the system (0.970 ± 0.019·km−1). We observed maximum survival between 12 and 17 °C and at intermediate discharges (1200 m3·s−1). Smolt survival increased concurrent...
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Identification of potential critical habitat, seasonal distributions, and movements within and between river systems is important for protecting the Gulf of Maine (GOM) Distinct Population Segment of Atlantic Sturgeon. To accomplish these objectives, we captured Atlantic Sturgeon in four GOM rivers (Penobscot, Kennebec system, Saco, and Merrimack), and tagged 144 (83.3–217.4 cm TL) internally with uniquely coded acoustic transmitters. Tagged fish were detected between 2006 to 2014 by primary receiver arrays deployed in the four GOM rivers or opportunistically on a secondary group of receivers deployed within the GOM and along the continental shelf. Atlantic Sturgeon tagged in the four rivers were documented at three...
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Timing of ocean entry is critical for marine survival of both hatchery and wild Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) smolts. Management practices and barriers to migration such as dams may constrain timing of smolt migrations resulting in suboptimal performance at saltwater entry. We modeled influences of stocking location, smolt development, and environmental conditions on (i) initiation of migration by hatchery-reared smolts and (ii) movement rate of hatchery- and wild-reared Atlantic salmon smolts in the Penobscot River, Maine, USA, from 2005 through 2014 using acoustic telemetry data. We also compared movement rates in free-flowing reaches with rates in reaches with hydropower dams and head ponds. We compared movement...
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Relatively little is known about the distribution and seasonal movement patterns of shortnose sturgeon Acipenser brevirostrum and Atlantic sturgeon Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus occupying rivers in the northern part of their range. During 2006 and 2007, 40 shortnose sturgeon (66–113.4 cm fork length [FL]) and 8 Atlantic sturgeon (76.2–166.2 cm FL) were captured in the Penobscot River, Maine, implanted with acoustic transmitters, and monitored using an array of acoustic receivers in the Penobscot River estuary and Penobscot Bay. Shortnose sturgeon were present year round in the estuary and overwintered from fall (mid-October) to spring (mid-April) in the upper estuary. In early spring, all individuals moved downstream...
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Survival, distribution, and behavior of hatchery (n = 493) and naturally reared (n = 133) smolts of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar migrating through the Penobscot River and estuary in Maine were evaluated with acoustic telemetry in 2005 and 2006. Survival and use of a secondary migration path (the Stillwater Branch) were estimated with a multistate mark–recapture model. Higher rates of mortality per kilometer (range = 0.01–0.22) were observed near release sites and within reaches that contained three particular dams: Howland, West Enfield, and Milford dams. Estimated total survival of tagged hatchery smolts through entire individual reaches containing those dams ranged from 0.52 ( 0.18) to 0.94 ( 0.09), whereas survival...