Population dynamics and movements of shortnose sturgeon in the Ogeechee River, Georgia
Farrae, Daniel Jacob
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The shortnose sturgeon is endangered because of over-harvest, habitat degradation, and a shrinking range. The current status of most populations remains unknown. From 2007 to 2009, I collected mark-recapture, telemetry, and habitat suitability data to assess the population dynamics and movements of shortnose sturgeon in the Ogeechee River, Georgia. Over the three years of my study, abundance, survival, and temporary emigration estimates, combined with documented movement of fish between rivers and poor summer habitat quality in the Ogeechee River, provided clear evidence that Ogeechee River stock of shortnose sturgeon is not a discrete population. I propose that the Altamaha and Ogeechee rivers form a source-sink metapopulation in regards to shortnose sturgeon. The results of this study fulfill many goals of the species’ recovery plan. My methods are an effective tool for evaluating population dynamics, movements, and habitat suitability of other shortnose sturgeon populations.