Sturgeon Song: Implications for Conservation

Justification

Pallid sturgeon, closely related to the Alabama sturgeon found in the Mississippi River

Sturgeon, as a group, are among the most imperiled fishes in the world. One reason for the decline of these fishes is the interruption of spawning migrations by dams. Dams create reservoirs, which are unsuitable habitat for larval sturgeon.  As sturgeon numbers decline, finding enough animals to study their natural habitat and life history, and to capture for propagation has become extremely difficult. The populations of many other aquatic animals (whales, redfish, etc.),are monitored by their acoustic signals, and this may be a good technique for monitoring sturgeon as well.

 

Objectives

(1) Document the acoustic signals of sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus) during the breeding season.
(2) Find spawning aggregations of sturgeon in rivers by monitoring acoustic signals.

Alabama sturgeon

 

Research

In 2001, Auburn University Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture researchers made the first recordings of sturgeon sounds in North America, using pallid sturgeon as study species. The complex sounds are relatively high amplitude and high frequency and consist of several components. A typical pallid sturgeon sound can be heard at this site: sound. Current work is aimed at describing the signal and at recording sounds from several species in order to determine the call structure of different species.

 

Anticipated Impacts

This work will pave the way for field investigations in the future and may assist in the conservation of the Alabama sturgeon, one of the world’s most endangered vertebrate animals.

 

Principal Investigator

Carol E. Johnston
Assistant Professor
Auburn University, Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures
johnsc5@auburn.edu

 

Affiliated Departments or Institutions

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

203 Swingle Hall | Auburn, Alabama 36849 | (334) 844-4786 |
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