Behavior of juvenile lake sturgeon stocked above a hydropower dam

Grant: # 1302

Grant Amount: $472,361.00

Board Decision Year: 2013

Michigan Department of Natural Resources - Fisheries Division (Marquette)

Fisheries Division

Baker, Ed ([email protected]) 906 249 1611 X309

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

Project Details

Hydropower dams on Great Lakes tributaries continue to restrict natural lake sturgeon reproduction. Providing upstream passage to allow adult lake sturgeon access to inaccessible spawning habitats is being pursued on some Great Lakes tributaries. However, there is a lack of data on the behavior and downstream passage of juvenile lake sturgeon that may be realized from upstream passage and subsequent spawning by adult lake sturgeon. Researchers used acoustic telemetry and passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag technologies to investigate stocked juvenile lake sturgeon behavior and habitat use in Cheboygan County, Michigan. They tagged juvenile lake sturgeon in two consecutive years with PIT tags and/or surgically implanted acoustic transmitter PIT tags, stocked the tagged fish in two small reservoirs on the Upper Black River, and monitored habitat use, behavior, and passage survival.

Although all stocking events of juvenile lake sturgeon resulted in some sturgeon quickly moving downstream and through the hydropower dams, a varying proportion of all ages stocked spent extended time in the reservoirs and some used habitats immediately upstream of the dams prior to downstream passage. The outmigration of juvenile lake sturgeon was seasonal and depended on the interrelated factors of water temperature, spillway discharge level, and powerhouse discharge level. Outmigration peaked in the spring and fall during times of seasonal water temperature changes. These outmigration peaks also corresponded with times of higher discharge through the powerhouses and spillways. Most of the outmigration movements occurred during the nighttime hours, indicating that migratory movements are largely nocturnal. Thus, hydroelectric dam operations may be able to be modified during these outmigration time periods to increase passage survival for outmigrating juvenile lake sturgeon. Passage survival was high at both dams evaluated and varied with age. Age-zero passage survival was higher than passage survival for age-one and age-two fish.


Final Report
View - 2013.1302_Final_Report_Narrative.pdf