Juvenile lake sturgeon olfactory homing
Project Title
Can exposure to amino acids during rearing minimize straying by stocked juvenile lake sturgeon
Project Code
Project Duration
May 2018 - August 2019
Project Description
A risk of using stocking to restore lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) populations to Great Lakes tributaries where local populations have been extirpated is that stocked individuals may stray into other waters containing genetically-different populations. Stream-side rearing, wherein sturgeon eggs and/or larvae are cultured in water from the river where they are to be stocked, has been used to provide the opportunity for imprinting and to minimize straying. This approach, however, is not always feasible or cost-effective, particularly in remote locations. Therefore, rearing methods that can minimize the potential for straying by stocked lake sturgeon are needed when sturgeon must be raised in hatcheries not located on the waters to be stocked. Previous research has shown that juvenile salmonids imprint to amino acids dissolved in stream waters, and in laboratory experiments, salmonids are attracted to water containing the amino acids in which they were reared. Whether or not amino acids are involved in imprinting and natal homing by lake sturgeon is unknown. Thus, the purpose of this study is to test if juvenile lake sturgeon raised in an amino acid (AA) cocktail that mimics typical river water are more likely than siblings reared in municipal water (no smell) to show behaviors that facilitate homing. If raising lake sturgeon in water containing amino acids has the desired effect on lake sturgeon behavior, we predict that fidelity to release sites will be greater for AA-exposed than non-exposed individuals and that AA-exposed individuals will be less likely than non-exposed individuals to stray. To describe and compare the behaviors of juvenile lake sturgeon subject to different AA exposures, hatchery-raised yearling lake sturgeon will be implanted with acoustic transmitters and then released into the Detroit River. All acoustic-tagged sturgeon will be released into a positional (VPS) array located in the Fighting Island Channel so that fidelity to the release site can be determined. Receiver lines located upstream and downstream of the positional array (throughout the entire Lake Huron-to-Lake Erie corridor) will be used to detect movements out of the Detroit River.
Participating Organizations