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Substantive changes to physical habitat in the Lower Missouri River, resulting from intensive management, have been implicated in the decline of pallid (Scaphirhynchus albus) and shovelnose (S. platorynchus) sturgeon. To aid in habitat rehabilitation efforts, we evaluated habitat selection of gravid, female shovelnose sturgeon during the spawning season in two sections (lower and upper) of the Lower Missouri River in 2005 and in the upper section in 2007. We fit discrete choice models within an information theoretic framework to identify selection of means and variability in three components of physical habitat. Characterizing habitat within divisions around fish better explained selection than habitat values at...
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Otoliths were used to estimate daily age, growth, and hatching date of the exotic Asian swamp eel (Monopterus albus) captured from a backwater marsh of the Chattahoochee River, Georgia, USA. The eels were sampled using leaf litter traps (N=140) from 17 July to 28 August 2008. The captured (N=15) Asian swamp eels ranged in total length from 4.9cm to 12.2cm, and were estimated to be from 21 to 51days old (N=13), and hatched from 13 June to 7 August 2008. Assuming linear growth, these individuals grew an average rate of 0.2cm per day. To the authors' knowledge, this was the first time otoliths were used to estimate daily age, growth, and hatching date for M. albus, which can be useful for understanding the ecology...
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Several USA state, federal, and Canadian agencies study lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) within the St Clair River and Lake St Clair, collectively referred to hereafter as the St Clair River (SCR) system. Previously, there has been no set standard for determining condition for SCR system lake sturgeon. Condition measures the variation from the expected weight for length as an indicator of fatness, general well-being, gonad development, etc. The aim of this project was to determine the length weight relationship of lake sturgeon caught from the SCR system, from which a relative condition factor (Kn) equation could be derived. Total length (TL, mm) and weight (W, kg) were measured for 1074 lake sturgeon (101 males...
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Upstream migrant adults of stellate sturgeon, Acipenser stellatus (10 in 1998, 43 in 1999) and Russian sturgeon, A. gueldenstaedtii (three in 1999) were captured at river km (rkm) 58-137, mostly in the spring, and tagged with acoustic tags offering a reward for return. The overharvest was revealed by tag returns (38% in 1998, 28% in 1999) and by harvest within 26 days (and before reaching spawning grounds) of the six stellate sturgeon tracked upstream. A drop-back of > 50% of the tagged sturgeon, some to the Black Sea, shows a high sensitivity to interruption of migration and capture/handling/holding. Harvesting and dropback prevented tracking of sturgeon to spawning sites. Gillnetting and tracking of stellate sturgeon...
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White sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) ???95 cm TL were monitored using acoustic and radio telemetry at a large hydroelectric dam (the Dalles Dam) on the Columbia River, during March 2004 through November 2005 to determine timing and routes of passage and to characterize general movements. Transmitters were surgically implanted into 148 fish during the study; 90 were released into the tailrace and 58 into the forebay. We documented 26 passage events by 19 tagged fish: eight upstream via fish ladders and 18 downstream, mostly through open spill gates. During the study 17 fish entered the two ladders one or more times; 11 entered only the east ladder, three entered only the north ladder, and three entered both ladders...
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We presume that the shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus) has evolved to spawn in the springtime when environmental conditions are at some optimum, but this state has not yet been defined. In this study physiological readiness to spawn in shovelnose sturgeon was examined to define more closely when spawning could occur and thus identify and evaluate prevailing environmental conditions that could cue spawning during that period. Reproductive assessments of Lower Missouri River shovelnose during 4 years (2005-2008) and at two locations (Gavins Point Dam, South Dakota and Boonville, Missouri) were used to identify shovelnose sturgeon spawning periods. Initiation of the spawning period, as defined by the...
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Demographic models for the shovelnose (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus) and pallid (S. albus) sturgeons in the Lower Missouri River were developed to conduct sensitivity analyses for both populations. Potential effects of increased fishing mortality on the shovelnose sturgeon were also evaluated. Populations of shovelnose and pallid sturgeon were most sensitive to age-0 mortality rates as well as mortality rates of juveniles and young adults. Overall, fecundity was a less sensitive parameter. However, increased fecundity effectively balanced higher mortality among sensitive age classes in both populations. Management that increases population-level fecundity and improves survival of age-0, juveniles, and young adults...
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It is thought that grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) eggs must remain suspended in the water column in order to hatch successfully. Using sand, the effects of varying sediment levels on grass carp eggs were tested at different developmental states and temperatures. Survival was high (15–35%, depending on temperature and trial) in the unburied treatment where eggs rested on a sand bed but were not covered by sediment. Survival was lower in the partial burial (5–10%) and very low (0–4%) in the full burial treatment. In all treatments, delayed hatching (organisms remaining in membranes past the stage of hatching competence) was noted. Deformities such as missing heads and pericardial edema occurred at high rates...
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The Pallid Sturgeon is listed as federally endangered under the Endangered Species Act in the United States. When the species was listed in 1990 it was considered extremely rare and was poorly understood. Habitat alteration, commercial harvest, environmental contaminants, and other factors were identified as threats. Today our scientific understanding of the species and its life history requirements have increased greatly as summarized below.
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We quantified the bycatch of pallid sturgeon Scaphirhynchus albus in Tennessee's shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus) fishery by accompanying commercial fishers and monitoring their catch on five dates in spring 2007. Fishers were free to keep or discard any sturgeon they collected in their gillnets and trotlines and we were afforded the opportunity to collect meristic and morphometric data and tissue samples from discarded and harvested specimens. Fishers removed 327 live sturgeon from their gear in our presence, of which 93 were harvested; we also obtained the carcasses of 20 sturgeon that a fisher harvested out of our sight while we were on the water with another fisher. Two of the 113 harvested...
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Approaches using telemetry, precise reproductive assessments, and surgically implanted data storage tags (DSTs) were used in combination with novel applications of analytical techniques for fish movement studies to describe patterns in migratory behavior and predict spawning success of gravid shovelnose sturgeon. From 2004 to 2007, over 300 gravid female shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus) from the Lower Missouri River, that were expected to spawn in the year they were collected, were surgically implanted with transmitters and archival DSTs. Functional cluster modeling of telemetry data from the spawning season suggested two common migration patterns of gravid female shovelnose sturgeon. Fish implanted...
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Bottom substrates and overlying water at three sites where lake sturgeon were reported by others to spawn in the 160-km channel between lakes Huron and Erie were surveyed by boat just before or after the exact time of spawning in 2001 to determine the kinds of substrates present and differences in water quality at the sites. Substrates, examined and photographed using a high-resolution, underwater, video camera, were beds of either rounded cobble (10-40 cm in diameter) and coarse gravel (2-8 cm in diameter) of glacial origin or coal cinders (0.5-12 cm in diameter) of human origin, >1/4 ha in area and >0.3 m in thickness. Water quality, defined as percent of surface light reaching the bottom (range: 0.05-8.7%), Secchi...
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Steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) ascend several Lake Ontario tributaries to spawn and juveniles are often the most abundant salmonid where spawning is successful. Movement and diet of recently emerged subyearling steelhead were examined in three New York tributaries of Lake Ontario. Downstream movement occurred mainly at night and consisted of significantly smaller fry that were feeding at lower levels than resident fry. Fry fed at the highest rate during the day and chironomids and baetids were the main components of their diet. The diet composition of steelhead fry was closely associated with the composition of the benthos in Trout Brook but more similar to the composition of the drift in the other streams. Daily...
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Diel variation in habitat use of subyearling Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), subyearling coho salmon (O. kisutch), yearling steelhead (O. mykiss), and yearling Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) was examined during the spring in two tributaries of Lake Ontario. A total of 1318 habitat observations were made on juvenile salmonids including 367 on steelhead, 351 on Chinook salmon, 333 on Atlantic salmon, and 261 on coho salmon. Steelhead exhibited the most diel variation in habitat use and Chinook the least. Juvenile salmonids were generally associated with more cover and larger substrate during the day in both streams. Interspecific differences in habitat use in both streams occurred with Atlantic salmon (fast...
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Radio and acoustic telemetry were used to monitor the seasonal movement of hatchery-reared and wild shortnose sturgeon (622-927 mm total length) in the Savannah River. Diploid, and sterile hatchery-reared shortnose sturgeon, and wild shortnose sturgeon showed apparent similar seasonal patterns of movement within the river. We were unable to detect any significant differences in the seasonal mean river location, minimum daily distance moved, absolute distance moved, displacement or mean territory size among treatments. Fish moved throughout the brackish and freshwater interface area of the Savannah River during the summer months. Coinciding with decreasing fall temperatures, fish of all treatment groups moved downriver...
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Low voltage constant direct current was used to immobilize juvenile lake (Acipenser fulvescens) and shortnose sturgeons (A. brevirostrum). There was no significant difference in time/ the lake or shortnose sturgeons required to exhibit positive rheotaxis between fish immobilized with electricity and control fish (two-way ANOVA, P = 0.11). Fish immobilized with 80 mg L-1 tricaine took a significantly longer time to orient than control fish or fish immobilized with electricity for 5 or 30 min (one-way ANOVA, P = 0.003). Electronarcosis, which produces effects like a chemical anesthetic, is a useful technique for immobilizing juvenile sturgeons for handling. Fish can swim upright as soon as the electricity is turned...
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We collected the first life history information on shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) in any of the rivers to Chesapeake Bay, the geographic center of the species range. In the Potomac River, two telemetry-tagged adult females used 124 km of river: A saltwater/freshwater reach at river km (rkm) 63-141 was the foraging-wintering concentration area, and one female migrated to spawn at rkm 187 in Washington, DC. The spawning migration explained the life history context of an adult captured 122 years ago in Washington, DC, supporting the idea that a natal population once lived in the river. Repeated homing migrations to foraging and wintering areas suggested the adults were residents, not transient coastal...
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Research and development of a fish ladder for sturgeons requires understanding ladder hydraulics and sturgeon behaviour in the ladder to insure the ladder is safe and provides effective passage. After years of research and development, we designed and constructed a full-scale prototype side-baffle ladder inside a spiral flume (38.3m long??1m wide??1m high) on a 6% (1:16.5) slope with a 1.92-m rise in elevation (bottom to top) to test use by sturgeons. Twenty-eight triangular side baffles, each extending part way across the flume, alternated from inside wall to outside wall down the ladder creating two major flow habitats: a continuous, sinusoidal flow down the ladder through the vertical openings of side-baffles...
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Recruitment of burbot Lota lota in eastern Lake Erie, estimated by catches of age-4 burbot, was high during 1997–2001 and then abruptly declined to low levels during 2002–2007. The invasive round goby Neogobius melanostomus, a benthic species, was first collected in trawl assessments in eastern Lake Erie in 1999, and was first found in stomachs of burbot in 2001. By 2003, round goby became an important prey in the diet of burbot. We hypothesized that the combined effects of low recruitment and consumption of round goby would result in increased size-at-age in burbot. We reasoned that: (i) decreased competition for resources among juveniles should result in larger adults, and (ii) consumption of a benthic prey by...
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Contrary to conventional wisdom for shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum), we document shortnose sturgeon use of habitats beyond large rivers. Telemetry data from 2008 to 2010 in the Gulf of Maine demonstrates that adult shortnose sturgeon (up to 70%) frequently move between Maine’s two largest rivers, the Kennebec and Penobscot Rivers. Even more interesting, small rivers located between these watersheds were used by 52% of the coastal migrants. Small river use was not trivial, 80% of observed movements extended more than 10 km upstream. However, visits were short in duration. This pattern indicates one of several possibilities: directed use of resources, searching behaviors related to reproduction (i.e. straying)...