Sturgeon Endangerment: Should we be surprised that no sturgeon species are yet extinct? Sturgeons co-existed with dinosaurs and have survived the cataclysmic ecological effects of asteroid blasts. Why then should we be concerned? The conundrum of sturgeon is that despite their resiliency through evolutionary time, they are particularly sensitive to harvest and habitat degradation (from Secor et al. 2002). Worldwide, many sturgeon populations are in jeopardy of extirpation in the coming decades. In the Caspian Sea, a ban on most caviar fisheries was imposed in 2001 to protect beluga, Russian, and stellate sturgeons. Here in North America, sturgeons were second only to marine Sebastes (Scorpaenidae) in the number of species categorized as either threatened or endangered (Musick et al. 2000). In trying to restore population abundances, we are quickly learning that much more is required than merely protecting the species from further harm. How to promote recovery remains largely illusive - a vexing conundrum in the face of the real likelihood that during many of our careers, sturgeon populations will continue to go extinct ....
A long-term goal of our laboratory is to participate with federal, state, and international cooperators in programs of sturgeon restoration (in the Chesapeake Bay) and sturgeon conservation elsewhere. Current efforts have been devoted towards determining factors that most contributed to Chesapeake Bay sturgeon declines and limits to their recovery. These investigations have led to several pertinent issues/constraints:
Niklitschek, E.S. and D.H. Secor. 2010. Experimental and field evidence of behavioral habitat selection by juvenile Atlantic (Acipenser oxyrinchus) and shortnose (Acipenser brevirostrum) sturgeons. J. Fish Biol. 77: 1293-1308.
Niklitschek, E.S. and D.H. Secor. 2009. Dissolved oxygen, temperature and salinity effects on the ecophysiology and survival of juvenile Atlantic sturgeon in estuarine waters: I. Laboratory Results. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 381, Suppl. 1: 150-160.
Niklitschek, E.S. and D.H. Secor. 2009. Dissolved oxygen, temperature and salinity effects on the ecophysiology and survival of juvenile Atlantic sturgeon in estuarine waters: II. Model development and testing. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 381, Suppl. 1: 161-172.
Woodland, R.J., D.H. Secor, and E.J. Niklitschek. 2009. Past and future habitat suitability for the Hudson River population of shortnose sturgeon: a bioenergetic approach to modeling habitat suitability for an endangered species. Am. Fish. Soc. Symp. 69: 589-604.
Woodland, R. and D.H. Secor. 2007. Year-class strength and recovery of endangered shortnose sturgeon in the Hudson River, NY. Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. 136:72–81
Gross, M.R., J. Repka, C.T. Robertson, D.H. Secor and W. Van Winkle. 2002. Sturgeon conservation: insights from elasticity analysis. Am. Fish. Soc. Symp. 28: 13-30.
Secor, D.H. 2002. Atlantic sturgeon fisheries and stock abundances during the late nineteenth century. Am. Fish. Soc. Symp. 28: 89-98.
Secor, D.H., P.J. Anders, W. Van Winkel and D. Dixon. 2002. Can we study sturgeons to extinction? What we do and don't know about the conservation of North American sturgeons. Am. Fish. Soc. Symp. 28: 3-10.
Van Winkle, W., P.J. Anders, D.H. Secor, and D. Dixon (Eds.). 2002. Biology, Protection, and Management of North American Sturgeon. Am. Fish. Soc. Symp. 28, 258 pp.
Secor, D.J. and E.J. Niklitschek. In press. Sensitivity of sturgeons to environmental hypoxia: A review of physiological and ecological evidence. In: Fish Physiology, Toxicology, and Water Quality. Proceedings of the Sixth International Symposium, La Paz, MX, 22-26 Jan. 2001. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Research and Development, Ecosystems Research Division, Athens, GA.
Secor, D.H., V. Arevyev, A. Nikolaev, and A. Sharov. 2000. Restoration of sturgeons: Lessons from the Caspian Sea sturgeon ranching program. Fish and Fisheries 1: 215-230.
Secor, D.H., E. Niklitschek, J.T. Stevenson, T.E. Gunderson, S. Minkkinen, B. Florence, M. Mangold, J. Skjeveland and A. Henderson-Arzapalo. 2000. Dispersal and growth of yearling Atlantic sturgeon Acipenser oxyrinchus released into the Chesapeake Bay. Fish. Bull. 98: 800-810.
Stevenson, J.T. and D.H. Secor. 2000. Age determination and growth of Hudson River Atlantic sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrinchus. Fish. Bull. 97: 153-166.
Secor, D.H. and J.R. Waldman. 1999. Historical abundance of Delaware Bay atlantic sturgeon and potential rate of recovery. pp. 203-217. In: J.A. Musick [Ed.], Life in the Slow Lane: Ecology and Conservation of Long-Lived Marine Animals. Amer. Fish. Soc. Symp. 23, Washington, DC.
Waldman, J.R. and D.H. Secor. 1999. Caviar trade in North America: An historical perspective. pp. 52-64. In: D. Williamson [Ed.], Proceedings of the Symposium on Harvest, Trade, and Conservation of North American Sturgeon and Paddlefish.
Secor, D.H. and T.E. Gunderson. 1998. Effects of hypoxia and temperature on survival, growth, and respiration of juvenile Atlantic sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrinchus. Fish. Bull. 96: 603-613.