Lake sturgeon metapopulation structure in a complex river-lake ecosystem

Grant: # 1200

Grant Amount: $359,929.00

Board Decision Year: 2011

Great Lakes Fishery Commission (Ann Arbor)

Krueger, Charles ([email protected]) (734) 662-3209

GLFT - Ecosystem Health and Sustainable Fish Populations-E - Ecological and biological fisheries research to inform management

Project Details

This study described the population structure of lake sturgeon that spawn in the St. Clair and Detroit rivers, which are among the few remaining Great Lakes tributaries in which lake sturgeon use of main-stem river spawning habitat is unblocked by dams or other manmade barriers. The number, geographic organization, and connectedness of spawning populations within this group of lake sturgeon was expected to help managers understand the natural level of population and habitat connectivity necessary to rehabilitate self-sustaining lake sturgeon populations in more fragmented ecosystems. Researchers tested the hypothesis that lake sturgeon spawning in the Detroit and St. Clair rivers are comprised of up to three separate populations with different migration patterns, use of spawning rivers and sites, and survival rates.

Based on the infrequent movement of individuals between rivers, researchers concluded that lake sturgeon in the Detroit and St. Clair rivers represent independent or semi-independent populations that require separate management consideration. The long-range movements of a few individuals suggest the potential for complex metapopulation interactions among lake sturgeon populations throughout Lakes Huron and Erie. Management of lake sturgeon in the Detroit-St. Clair river system, therefore, could influence the dynamics of lake sturgeon population in places like Saginaw Bay. Based on the discovery of significant within-population variability in movement patterns, researchers concluded that locks and dams in sturgeon spawning rivers may limit the expression of phenotypic diversity that potentially contributes to the resiliency of lake sturgeon populations in the Great Lakes. Study results suggest that priorities for future lake sturgeon rehabilitation efforts in the Great Lakes include the protection and restoration of fluvial lakes (e.g., Lake St. Clair), the identification and conservation of genetic and phenotypic diversity (e.g., year-round river residency), and consideration of how lake sturgeon interact with their habitat in human-dominated landscapes.


Research Article
Use of navigation channels by Lake Sturgeon: Does channelization increase vulnerability of fish to ship strikes?
View - Hondorp_etal_2017_PLOSONE.pdf
Journal of Animal Ecology Kessel_et_al_2018
View - 2011.1200_Journal_Of_Animal_Ecology_Kessel_etal_2018.pdf