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

Pendleton R, Standley CR, Higgs AL, Kenney GH, Sullivan PJ, Sethi SA, Harris B. (2018) Acoustic telemetry and benthic habitat mapping informs the spatial ecology of Shortnose Sturgeon in the Hudson River, NY, USA. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 148:35-47.


A history of overexploitation and industrialization of riverine habitats has impacted Shortnose Sturgeon Acipenser brevirostrum, leading this species to be one of the earliest listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Presently, understanding spatial ecology of Shortnose Sturgeon is based on observations from a limited number Atlantic coastal rivers. To better understand Shortnose Sturgeon in the Hudson River in NY, USA, we used acoustic telemetry to characterize seasonal habitat use and to identify regions of the river where seasonal sturgeon activity occurred. From 2012-2016, 101 adult fish were tagged and tracked from 2012-2016 and sturgeon detection per unit effort (a metric of fish observation standardized by search effort) was evaluated against benthic habitat variables using generalized additive regression models. Models indicated strong habitat associations in the Spring season defined by gravel dominated substrates and specific depth ranges, presumably associated with spawning activity. During Summer, sturgeon were more dispersed associating with muddy habitats, whereas, in Fall/Winter sturgeon congregated in specific regions of the river. These data demonstrate river use and habitat associations vary seasonally and identify important areas for managing overlap between seasonal sturgeon habitat use and human activity on the river.