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


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 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. October 2019
Izzo, L. K., D. L. Parrish, G. B. Zydlewski, and J. E Marsden. Seasonal dynamics of spatial overlap between juvenile and adult lake sturgeon in Lake Champlain. 150th Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society, Columbus, OH, 30 August- 3 September 2020 (changed to virtual meeting 14 - 25 September 2020). September 2020