Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Vermont
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Vermont Project


Development of methods to assess lake sturgeon populations in Lake Champlain

July 2016 - December 2021


Personnel

Participating Agencies

  • Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department

Lake sturgeon Acipenser fulvescens are widely distributed in freshwater systems throughout North America, occupying both lake and riverine habitats. Like other members of the sturgeon family, lake sturgeon are long lived, slow to mature, display intermittent spawning, have high fecundity and low natural mortality. Despite their low natural mortality, these life history characteristics make them especially vulnerable to overexploitation. Lake sturgeon populations have declined throughout the range of the species due to factors including habitat loss and overfishing, and are listed as extirpated, endangered, threatened, or of special concern in 12 states. The State of Vermont listed the species as endangered in 1975 due to low abundances in Lake Champlain. In the late 1800s and early 1900s a small commercial fishery for sturgeon existed Lake Champlain, however current numbers are unknown and likely represent a small fraction of the historic population. Since 1998, the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife (VTFW) has conducted sampling that has documented adult spawners, eggs, and larvae in the Winooski, Lamoille, and Missisquoi rivers. Spawning adults have not been documented in Otter Creek, a historic spawning tributary of Lake Champlain. Successful reproduction is occurring in multiple rivers in the lake. In this study, we are documenting adult and juvenile movements in the lake and spawning adult movements in the Winooski River and we are working on developing a method to estimate abundance of lake sturgeon in Lake Champlain.

Presentations Presentation Date
Izzo, L.K., D.L. Parrish, G.B. Zydlewski, and C. MacKenzie. Feasibility of estimating Lake Sturgeon abundance using side-scan SONAR on a river delta in Lake Champlain. Southern New England Chapter Meeting of AFS and Northeastern Division Meeting of AFS, Mystic, CT, 26-28 February 2017. 2017-02-27
Izzo, L.K., D.L. Parrish, G.B. Zydlewski, and C. MacKenzie. Lake Champlain sturgeon: Characterizing the spawning run using acoustic technology. 147th Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society, Tampa, Florida, 20-25 August 2017. 2017-08-21
Izzo, L.K., D.L. Parrish, G.B. Zydlewski, and C. MacKenzie. Estimating abundance of spawning lake sturgeon in the Winooski River, VT using dual-frequency identification sonar (DIDSON). 74th annual Northeast Fish and Wildlife Conference, Burlington, VT, 15-17 April 2018. 2018-04-16
Izzo, L.K., D.L. Parrish, G.B. Zydlewski, and C. MacKenzie. Estimating abundance of spawning lake sturgeon in the Winooski River, VT using dual-frequency identification sonar (DIDSON). Great Lakes Lake Sturgeon Workshop, Port Huron, MI, 21-22 February 2018. 2018-02-21
Izzo, L.K., D.L. Parrish, G.B. Zydlewski, and C. MacKenzie. Estimating abundance of spawning lake sturgeon in the Winooski River, VT using dual-frequency identification sonar (DIDSON). Great Lakes Lake Sturgeon Workshop, Port Huron, MI, 21-22 February 2018. 2018-02-21
Izzo, L.K., D.L. Parrish, G.B. Zydlewski, and C. MacKenzie. Combining dual-frequency identification sonar (DIDSON) and acoustic telemetry to estimate abundance of spawning lake sturgeon. 148th annual meeting of the American Fisheries Society, Atlantic City, NJ, 19-23 August 2018. 2018-08-20
Izzo, L.K., D.L. Parrish, G.B. Zydlewski, and C. MacKenzie. Feasibility of estimating Lake Sturgeon abundance using side-scan SONAR on a river delta in Lake Champlain. New York Chapter Meeting of AFS, Buffalo, NY, 1-3 February 2017. 2017-02-02
Izzo, L. K., D. L. Parrish*, G. B. Zydlewski, and C. MacKenzie. Using sonar to estimate lake sturgeon abundance in a river and lake delta in the northeastern USA. 4th Mississippi-Yangtze River Basins Symposium, Chongqing, China, 15-20 October 2018. *Presenter. 2018-10-15
Izzo, L.K., D.L. Parrish, G.B. Zydlewski, and C. MacKenzie. Feasibility of estimating Lake Sturgeon abundance using side-scan SONAR on a river delta in Lake Champlain. New York Chapter Meeting of AFS, Buffalo, NY, 1-3 February 2017. 2017-02-02
Izzo, L.K., D.L. Parrish, G.B. Zydlewski, and J.E. Marsden. Seasonal movements and habitat use of juvenile lake sturgeon in Lake Champlain. Joint meeting of the American Fisheries Society and The Wildlife Society, Reno, Nevada, 30 September-3 October 2019. 2019-10-03