Comparing size, movement, and habitat selection of wild and streamside-reared lake sturgeon

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A streamside rearing facility (SRF) on the Big Manistee River, Michigan, was constructed for the purpose of rearing larval and age-0 lake sturgeon Acipenser fulvescens. Size, movement, and habitat selection were studied from 2007 to 2008 to determine whether there were differences between age-0 lake sturgeon reared in the streamside facility and natural cohorts. Lake sturgeon reared streamside showed no significant difference in length from their wild counterparts. Movement patterns were studied by attaching external radio transmitters to 17 age-0 streamside (198-250 mm total length) and 17 age-0 wild lake sturgeon (206-262 mm). The average weekly distances traveled by SRF fish ranged from 0.05-2.28 km (of 46 km surveyed) while wild fish traveled 0.04-2.81 km. In the river sections sampled, sand, pebble, and gravel comprised over 92.5% of the encountered substrates and Strauss index values indicated no differences in the presence of wild and SRF sturgeon over these substrates. Age-0 lake sturgeon were most often found in water 1.7mdeep with a velocity of 0.5 m/s, and no statistically significant differences were observed between wild and SRF sturgeon for either depth or velocity during the study years. By September, streamside-reared age-0 lake sturgeon attained a size similar to that of their wild cohorts and exhibited similar movement patterns and substrate association. © American Fisheries Society 2011.

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North American Journal of Fisheries Management