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Detection of natural barriers to movement of lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) within the Namakan River, Ontario

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Abstract:

Many populations of lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens Rafinesque, 1817) are below historic population sizes, and migration barriers have likely contributed to some of these population declines. Dams and natural barriers can potentially isolate populations along a single river and can have a strong effect on the ability of lake sturgeon to move upstream. Along the Namakan River in Ontario, Canada, a series of natural rapids could impede movement of lake sturgeon and fragment the sturgeon into several small populations. Movement patterns of lake sturgeon were assessed using genetics and acoustic telemetry. Samples were collected from five locations along the river, each one separated by a rapid or falls, and were analyzed at 12 microsatellite loci. No significant genetic differences were observed between the five segments, indicating that the groups of lake sturgeon are not isolated. There were no significant differences in genetic diversity between the five segments. Therefore, migration is likely occurring both upstream and downstream. The acoustic telemetry study also confirmed bidirectional movement of adult fish. The natural rapids and falls along the Namakan River do not appear to be a significant barrier to movement of lake sturgeon, and the lake sturgeon within this river represent a single population.

Plusieurs populations d’esturgeons jaunes (Acipenser fulvescens Rafinesque, 1817) se retrouvent à des densités inférieures à celles du passé et il est vraisemblable que des barrières à la migration aient contribué au déclin de certaines de ces populations. Les barrages et les barrières naturelles peuvent potentiellement isoler les populations le long du cours d’une même rivière et affecter fortement la capacité des esturgeons jaunes à se déplacer vers l’amont. Le long de la rivière Namakan en Ontario, Canada, une série de rapides naturels pourrait entraver le déplacement des esturgeons jaunes et les séparer en plusieurs petites populations. Nous avons évalué les patrons de déplacement des esturgeons jaunes à l’aide de la génétique et de la télémétrie acoustique. Nous avons prélevé des esturgeons à cinq sites sur le cours de la rivière, chacun séparé par un rapide ou une chute, et procédé à une analyse génétique de 12 locus microsatellites. Il n’y a aucune différence génétique significative entre les cinq segments, ce qui indique que les groupes d’esturgeons jaunes ne sont pas isolés. Il n’y a pas non plus de différence significative de diversité génétique entre les cinq segments. Il se produit donc vraisemblablement de la migration tant vers l’amont que vers l’aval. La télémétrie acoustique confirme aussi les déplacements des poissons adultes dans les deux directions. Les rapides naturels et les chutes le long de la Namakan ne semblent pas constituer des barrières significatives aux déplacements des esturgeons jaunes qui forment donc une seule population dans cette rivière.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-04-01

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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