Zebra mussels pose a serious threat to the habitat of Lake Sturgeon. The invasive mussels may also affect Lake Sturgeon’s food supply.
The invasive mussels may compete with the native mussels for sturgeon’s preferred prey, which is small benthic organisms.
Zebra mussels have caused significant damage to native fish, insects, and mollusks in the Hudson River. They may affect the ecosystem because they take up nutrients in the water.
Once these invasive mussels have taken over, the ecosystem may change drastically.
Habitat suitability index models are a useful tool in assessing habitat suitability for Lake Sturgeon. They are based on criteria that consider lake habitat conditions and local knowledge.
This information is crucial in selecting appropriate recovery approaches. While a model can help identify suitable habitats, local knowledge of the environment is necessary to make informed decisions.
As Lake Sturgeon are long-lived migratory fish, the species requires diverse habitats to thrive. The species requires distinct habitat for its larval, young-of-the-year, and yearling life stages.
Habitat management should attempt to restore or mimic the original habitat conditions while maintaining the links between important habitats within a given watershed.
Fortunately, several management plans have been developed in various jurisdictions.
These include plans developed by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.
By following these guidelines, the population of Lake Sturgeon can be protected and improved in a manner consistent with ecosystem integrity and function.
Lake sturgeon can reach a length of seven to twelve feet and weigh up to 300 pounds. Their life span is up to 150 years.
They can appear fierce, but they are docile, shy, and playful. While some may think that the large size of lake sturgeon makes them a prime target for fishermen, they are not aggressive fish.
Researchers used acoustic telemetry to monitor 268 lake sturgeon throughout the Great Lakes for six years.
The data generated were used to study migration patterns, which were associated with size and sex, and the location of tagging.
The findings suggest that there are at least two distinct lake sturgeon populations in the Detroit-St. Clair river system.
Lake sturgeon are one of the largest freshwater fish in the Great Lakes. The largest lake sturgeon weighed 300 pounds and was eight feet long.
However, lake sturgeon are not as large as they look, and the average size is only about 200 pounds and six feet long.
Moreover, Lake sturgeon grow much faster than their weight when they are young, but this tendency reverses as they age.
Their growth rate is dependent on the temperature of the lake they live in.
When spawning, lake sturgeon form aggregations close to the spawning area. Female sturgeon sometimes perform “staging” displays near their spawning sites.
Thousands of eggs are laid by mature females during the spawning season. The eggs will stick to logs and rocks. One female lake sturgeon may lay as many as 800,000 eggs during the spawning season.
The lake sturgeon was once a valuable resource for the Indigenous people of Manitoba. Large groups of Indigenous people traded them during traditional ceremonies.
The dried carcasses were also used as fuel on steamships. The lake sturgeon’s unique life history characteristics and limited distribution made them a valuable resource.
Today, they are prized for their smoked meat, sturgeon hide, and sturgeon eggs, which are exported for caviar.
The lake sturgeon has a wide range of habitats, from shallow to deep, and the prey availability influences the habitat selection.
Although lake sturgeon are found at a wide range of depths, they are most abundant in lakes six to twelve meters deep.
The habitat type also varies in the summer, with juveniles often congregating in shallow river mouths and adjacent bays.
The spawning habitat for lake sturgeon depends on temperature and flow regimes.
While spawning habitat varies by population, the optimal conditions for breeding are characterized by coarse gravel substrates. Generally, lake sturgeon spawn in high-gradient reaches of large rivers.
However, some populations also spawn in wave-washed lakes. After spawning, lake sturgeon migrate back downstream.
The spawning season of lake sturgeon occurs from mid-April to early June. In general, male sturgeon arrive at spawning sites before females.
The water temperature at which spawning occurs is between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius. However, temperatures are variable and depend on the ovarian cycle of individual females.
According to the American Fisheries Society, the lake sturgeon population is endangered in all states.
While the specific cause is unknown, habitat loss and degraded water quality remain significant threats.
The lake sturgeon population is estimated at just 1% of its historical abundance. It is also threatened by commercial fishing and habitat degradation.
Lake sturgeon are found in freshwater lakes throughout the northeastern United States. It also occurs in brackish waters in the Mississippi River and Hudson Bay.
Lake Sturgeon populations are threatened by dam construction and historical overharvesting. However, some populations are recovering.
To fulfill their responsibilities under the Species at Risk Act, Fisheries and Oceans Canada conducts Recovery Potential Assessments.
These assessments provide scientific advice for listing decisions, guide permit activities, and develop recovery strategies.
Lake sturgeon have unique morphology and are heavily armored. They have five rows of bony scutes that protect them from predators.
These scutes are thickest in juvenile sturgeon but become weaker as they mature. As a result, lake sturgeon require distinct habitat types for different life stages.
The population size of Lake Sturgeon has decreased significantly since the early 1900s.
The species is now listed as Endangered, and five historic spawning subpopulations are classified as extirpated.
The Ontario portion of Lake Erie contains no known tributaries where Lake Sturgeon can breed. In addition, the species is not found in western Lake Erie.
Although Lake Sturgeon are often caught by assessment gear, they are not commonly caught in the eastern and central basins.
Moreover, invasive species such as sea lampreys are affecting lake sturgeon populations.
While adult lake sturgeon are highly protected from sea lampreys, juvenile lake sturgeon are particularly vulnerable to sea lamprey attacks.
Sea lampreys can also affect lake sturgeon reproduction, so control measures to control sea lamprey populations can help protect the sturgeon population.
Lake Sturgeon populations have declined significantly since European settlement, mainly due to habitat loss and overfishing. The species has also been affected by poor water quality and human development.
The current status of the species is summarized for each COSSARO-designated region, but there is a significant information gap.