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

Izzo, L.K., D.L. Parrish, and G.B. Zydlewski. 2021. Multi-run migratory behavior of adult male lake sturgeon in a short river. Journal of Great Lakes Research.


Lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) can migrate long distances to spawn, but many populations currently spawn in systems where the length of accessible riverine migratory habitat has been greatly reduced by dam construction. With the increased prevalence of shortened rivers, focusing on migratory dynamics in short rivers (<30 km) is beneficial to understanding the migratory needs of lake sturgeon populations. Here we document male lake sturgeon movements during the spawning period in the Winooski River, Vermont, USA; a river with only 17 km to the first natural upstream barrier. Male lake sturgeon were acoustically tagged (n = 25, 1215–1470 mm TL) and tracked using five to nine stationary receivers from 2017 to 2019. River discharge, temperature, the lagged effect of temperature (3-day), and time of day were significant factors describing upstream movements of tagged fish. Migrating male lake sturgeon (n = 10 in 2017, n = 18 in 2018, and n = 17 in 2019) displayed general movement patterns during the spawning period that included a single run upstream to the spawning site (60%), upstream and downstream movements throughout the river during the season (20%), or multiple runs made up the entire length of the spawning tributary to the spawning site (20%). No multi-run males were observed during 2018 when discharge was less flashy (i.e., fewer steep increases and declines in discharge) than in 2017 and 2019. These results suggest that the prevalence of multi-run spawning behavior of male lake sturgeon is related to flow conditions.