Lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) spawning habitat: A quantitative review


The loss of spawning habitat has been identified as a limiting factor to population growth for lake sturgeon, Acipenser fulvescens, the most widely distributed species of the family in North America. While local information exists about lake sturgeon spawning habitat, a synthesis of all available data is needed across its range. Our study used meta-analytical techniques to describe the mean and range of critical spawning habitat characteristics based on data from 48 sites across all major watersheds in which lake sturgeon are found. Data were compiled into univariate habitat suitability indices to describe the spawning niche. Results indicate that peak suitability occurred at depth-averaged velocities of 0.6 m·s−1, depths of 0.55–0.85 m in small rivers (<100m3·s−1 annual average discharge) and 0.75–5.25min large rivers (>100m3·s−1), over cobble substrates (64–256 mm), and that suitable water temperatures decreased with increasing latitude. This study provides a comprehensive review of critical spawning criteria from which future habitat suitability models can be adapted.

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Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences