Population dynamics, movements, and spawning habitat of the shortnose sturgeon, Acipenser brevirostrum, in the Altamaha River system, Georgia
DeVries, Robert Jason
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In Georgia, the Altamaha River supports what is believed to be one of the largest remaining shortnose sturgeon populations south of Chesapeake Bay, however the current status and recent population trends of this population are unknown. A population estimate for shortnose sturgeon in the Altamaha River was generated using POPAN within Program MARK. Annuli on pectoral fin rays were used to determine age. Mortality estimates were calculated from catch curves. Radio telemetry was used to monitor movements and habitat use of 12 adult shortnose sturgeon. The results of this study indicate a population size of 6320 (95% C.I. 4387-9249) with a disproportionate number of juveniles. Ages ranged from 4 to 14 yr. Estimated annual mortality ranged between 29-34%. Spawning runs initiated in late December and were long, single-step migrations. Juveniles and adults coinhabited summer habitat in deep riverine stretches oand appeared confined to freshwater when water temperatures exceeded 27 C.