Verifying success of artificial spawning reefs in the St. Clair-Detroit River System for lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens Rafinesque, 1817)

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Lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) were historically abundant in the St. Clair - Detroit River System (SCDRS), a 160 km river/channel network. In the SCDRS, lake sturgeon populations have been negatively affected by the loss/degradation of natural spawning habitat. To address habitat loss for lake sturgeon and other species, efforts are underway to restore spawning substrate by constructing artificial reefs. The main objective of this study was to conduct post-construction monitoring of lake sturgeon egg deposition and larval emergence near two of these artificial reefs: Fighting Island Reef (FIR) in the Detroit River, and Middle Channel Reef in the St. Clair River. An additional site in the St. Clair River where lake sturgeon spawn on a coal clinker bed was also investigated. From 2010 to 2012, viable eggs and larvae were collected from all of these reefs, indicating that conditions are suitable for egg deposition, incubation, and larval emergence. In the St. Clair River, the results indicate the likelihood of other spawning sites upstream of these artificial reef sites.

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Journal of Applied Ichthyology