1999-2000 Sturgeon Research Funded by Florida

1999-2000 Florida funded sturgeon research

Project 1: Conservation and culture of native sturgeon
This project includes collecting sturgeon from the wild, operation of a hatchery to propagate sturgeon, maintenance of captive broodstock and production of a consistent supply of larvae and juvenile sturgeon necessary to conduct the other programs of sturgeon research.

Principal Investigator-Douglas Colle
Contracting Agency-University of Florida

Project 2: Feeding strategies
This project involves the evaluation of practical feeding and maintenance strategies, and rate and effects of yeast based protein on performance of native sturgeon. Feeding parameters include feed type, feeding times, optimal growth rate on various feeds, optimal diets for various stages of sturgeon growth and physiological parameters that may affect feeding and feeding physiology. This research will allow sturgeon production to make the transition from research to commercial technology.

Principal Investigators-Andrew Lazur and Richard Miles
Contracting Agency-University of Florida

Project 3: Surgical techniques for removing eggs in spawning sturgeon
This project involves the refinement of surgical techniques for removing eggs in spawning sturgeons. Researchers hope to improve survival of broodstock sturgeons used for production of fertilized eggs. This study focuses on the development of artificial ovarian fluid, increased knowledge of sturgeon anatomy, use of smaller (1") incisions and determination of the healing process after surgery, including absorption times of sutures for both internal and external fish tissues.

Principal Investigator-Frank Chapman
Contracting Agency-University of Florida

Project 4: Non-lethal method for collecting sturgeon stomach contents
This project will develop non-lethal methods for collection of sturgeon stomach contents in relation to feeding periodicity. Stomach contents will be withdrawn by washing the stomach. This project will evaluate the optimal washing (lavage) to be used to get the best sample of stomach contents from sturgeon. Lavages will eliminate the need to sacrifice the fish. The information learned in the laboratory will then be applied to wild sturgeon during their migration up river to assess the practicability of the technique in determining feeding periodicity.

Principal Investigator-Debra Murie
Contracting Agency-University of Florida

Project 5: Population modeling of Suwannee River
This project will develop a simulation model to assess population dynamics of gulf sturgeon in Florida's Suwannee River. This project will allow managers to assemble available data and make predictions of population trends for this stock of sturgeon. The parameters analyzed include: growth, i.e., length at age; survival at different life stages; fecundity; and population estimates.

Principal Investigator-Mike Allen
Contracting Agency-University of Florida

Project 6: Environmental tolerances of sturgeon
This project will provide a better understanding of environmental tolerances and potential sources of mortality for different life stages of sturgeon as they relate to upper lethal temperatures, dissolved oxygen and current velocity. This research has practical benefits both for aquaculture and conservation of sturgeon. Relative to aquaculture, it will image a range of culture conditions for the farmer and researcher to emulate for fish in captivity. It will allow the culturalist to optimize systems for peak performance of fish, thus optimizing production (survival and growth) and, therefore, efficiency and cost.

Principal Investigator-Daryl Parkyn
Contracting Agency-University of Florida

Project 7: New surgical procedure for egg evaluation and the effects of MS222
This project addresses the development of surgical procedures for egg evaluation and the physiologic effects of tricaine-methanesulfate (MS-222), Metomidate and Eugenol anesthesia on the shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum). This project addresses the same problem in shortnose sturgeon that Project 3 does for gulf sturgeon, that is, evaluation of egg maturity in females and safe procurement of ovarian samples. In addition, benefits of the anaesthetics to reduce stress in female shortnose sturgeon will be examined. Two highly desired products from the experiments are a fistula (portal) to repeatedly sample ovarian maturation and an anesthetic protocol to determine the cardio-vascular effects of the anaesthetics and their effects on egg quality.

Principal Investigators-Robert Bakal, and Cliff Swanson
Contracting Agency-U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Project 8: New system for rearing shortnose sturgeon
This project addresses a new system for rearing shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) from egg to fingerling and proposes a change in early life history rearing methodology (egg to juvenile). It applies the trout rearing technology and methodology to sturgeon (use of Heath incubator in a single rearing aquarium). The new system is proposed to improve survival, reduce "bloating disease", and improve feed efficiency. It also uses less water and increases bottom surface area per sturgeon, thus improving production per unit of fish.

Principal Investigator-Robert Bakal
Contracting Agency-U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Project 9: Sturgeon culture risk assessment workshop
This project resulted in a two-day scientific and policy workshop on Sturgeon Culture Risk Assessment. The goal is to quantitatively and qualitatively assess and publish proceedings, which will provide an advisory document for sturgeon aquaculture best management practices, a guide to policy and program development, and aquaculture and stock enhancement protocols.

Principal Investigators-Paul Zajicek and Karen Metcalf
Contracting Agency-Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Project 10: Identification of spawning habitats in Yellow and Escambia Rivers
This project addresses the need for identification of gulf sturgeon spawning habitats in the Yellow and Escambia river systems. It will survey spawning habitat aided by radio telemetric tags, an efficient method for locating and tracking sturgeon. This project will provide preliminary riverine habitat information and allow placement of egg collection devices.

Principal Investigator-Nadine Craft
Contracting Agency-Florida Department of Environmental Protection/Northwest Florida Aquatic Preserves

Project 11: Assessment of benthos in Choctawhatchee Bay for Sturgeon Trophic Study
This project addresses an assessment of the bottom feeding invertebrates (e.g., shrimps and worms) of Choctawhatchee Bay in relation to the feeding behavior, seasonal occurrence and spatial distribution of a well established genetically distinct population of the gulf sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi Vladykov, 1955. This project addresses the feeding ecology of sturgeon by the identification of food organisms utilized by sturgeon and will determine if prey/forage affects sturgeon distribution in a shallow bay system.

Principal Investigator-Richard Heard
Contracting Agency-Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

FWC Facts:
Smalltooth sawfish have been reliably measured at 18 feet, but they may grow to over 20 feet long.

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