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Modeling the timing of spawning and hatching of shortnose sturgeon, Acipenser brevirostrum, in the Saint John River, New Brunswick, Canada

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Timing of spawning and hatching of shortnose sturgeon, Acipenser brevirostrum, in the Saint John River, New Brunswick, Canada, was estimated using inverse prediction. We examined egg incubation periods at 5, 9, and 13 °C to back-calculate spawning dates. No larvae hatched at 5 °C. At 9 and 13 °C, hatching began after 18 and 8 days post fertilization, respectively. Lengths of yolk-sac larvae reared in the laboratory at 13–21 °C were used to develop a temperature-mediated Gompertz growth model. The inverted Gompertz model, predicting larval age from larval size and water temperature, was applied to 671, 164, and 746 larvae captured in the wild in 2008, 2009, and 2010, respectively. Estimated hatching distributions peaked in late May, and mean spawning events were predicted to occur in late April – early May (9 °C scenario) and middle to late May (13 °C scenario). Larval ages at the two sampling transects, 4.5 km apart, were similar, while catch per unit effort was lower downstream, indicating mortality during dispersal. Inverse prediction of larval ages provides fast and cost-effective estimates of the timing of spawning, hatching, and larval migration in the wild.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB E3B 5A3, Canada. 2: Idaho Department of Fish and Game, 2885 W. Kathleen Avenue, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83835, USA. 3: Golder Associates Ltd., 102, 2535 - 3rd Avenue SE, Calgary, AB T2A 7W5, Canada. 4: Department of Biology, Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB E4L 1G7, Canada.

Publication date: August 1, 2012

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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