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Tuesday, January 30 • 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Poster Display. Using Side-scan Sonar to Analyze Potential Spawning Habitat of Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) in the AuSable River, Michigan

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AUTHORS: Serena Lake, Lake Superior State University, School of Biological Sciences; Brian Schmidt, Fish Biologist, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Alpena FWCO – Waterford Substation; Justin Chiotti, Fish Biologist, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Alpena FWCO – Waterford Substation

ABSTRACT: Lake Sturgeon are among the oldest fishes on earth, having persisted for over 100,000 years, however current populations are estimated to be 1% of historic abundance in their native range.  Overexploitation, pollution, and habitat degradation have decimated the species, and slow maturation rates, coupled with barriers to historic spawning grounds, have made recovery a slow process.  In recent years Federal, State, and Tribal organizations throughout the Great Lakes Basin have focused their efforts on restoring Lake Sturgeon.  Historically, spawning was documented in 33 known tributaries throughout the Lake Huron Basin.  However, recent studies have shown merely seven currently support spawning populations; one of which is in Michigan waters.  Four watersheds have been identified as potentially highly suitable for Lake Sturgeon restoration; one of which is a 20 km reach of the AuSable River, located from the first upstream dam to the mouth.  The objective of this study was to use side-scan sonar technology to quantify suitable spawning habitat in the AuSable River to inform decisions regarding potential reintroduction strategies.  The 20 km study reach was floated and scanned using a 1197? Humminbird Side Imaging System in July 2017.  Sonar “snapshots” were taken every 10 seconds and georeferenced with GPS trackpoints.  These images were converted into a single mosaic image which is merged into ArcGIS.  Preliminary results identify suitable spawning substrate in several areas in the upper half of the study area.   The extent of habitat will be examined further; in 2018, water velocity and ponar grabs will be collected at three locations along 250 m transects from the dam to the river mouth.  This information will be used to verify the substrate delineated in the snapshots and determine if appropriate habitat conditions exist for Lake Sturgeon spawning.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 6:00pm - 9:00pm CST
Ballroom C & Foyer

Attendees (5)