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Keywords:

  • Acipenser fulvescens;
  • GIS;
  • habitat enhancement;
  • habitat suitability index;
  • juvenile habitat;
  • rehabilitation;
  • spawning habitat;
  • stocking

Abstract

  • 1.
    Conservation and rehabilitation efforts for lake sturgeon Acipenser fulvescens throughout the Great Lakes include the re-establishment of self-sustaining stocks in systems where they have been extirpated.
  • 2.
    Information on the suitability of potential lake sturgeon habitat in tributaries is important for determining their capacity to support lake sturgeon stocking and to develop system-specific rehabilitation strategies.
  • 3.
    Geo-referenced habitat information characterizing substrate composition, water depth, and stream gradient were applied to a life-stage specific lake sturgeon habitat suitability index in a geographic information system to produce spatially explicit models of life-stage specific habitat characteristics in five northern Lake Michigan tributaries from which lake sturgeon have been extirpated.
  • 4.
    Habitat models indicated that high quality lake sturgeon spawning and staging habitat comprised 0 to 23% and 0 to 9% of the available habitat, respectively, whereas high quality juvenile lake sturgeon habitat was relatively ubiquitous throughout each river and comprised 39 to 99%.
  • 5.
    Comparison of these data to lake sturgeon habitat availability in Lake Michigan tributaries currently supporting populations indicated that spawning and staging habitats may limit the ability of these systems to support spawning. Efforts to re-establish lake sturgeon populations in these systems should consider the creation of spawning and staging habitat to increase reproductive and recruitment potential prior to the initiation of stocking efforts.

Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.