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Lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) spawn in the St. Marys River Rapids, Michigan

August 1, 2020

The St. Marys River connects Lake Superior to Lake Huron, comprising the international border between Michigan, United States, and Ontario, Canada. This Great Lakes connecting channel naturally encompasses various habitats including lakes, wetlands, islands, tributaries, side channels, and main channels. The St. Marys River Rapids are shallow rock areas with high flow velocities (>1 m/s) in the upper river adjacent to the navigation locks and electric power generating stations, while the Little Rapids are shallow, recently restored rocky areas with lower velocities located about 7 km downstream. The St. Marys River Rapids provide important spawning habitat for several native and introduced fishes, but spawning by lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) was not previously documented. We sampled for lake sturgeon eggs and larvae in both locations during June and July 2018–2019 using weekly benthic egg mat lifts and overnight D-frame larval fish drift nets. Viable lake sturgeon eggs (11 in 2018, 45 in 2019) were collected in the tailrace of a hydroelectric power facility adjacent to the St. Marys River Rapids. Larval lake sturgeon (21 in 2018, 1 in 2019) were collected in the same area as the eggs. Neither lake sturgeon eggs nor larvae were collected at Little Rapids in either year. Our results are the first documentation of successful lake sturgeon spawning and larval drift in the upper St. Marys River. While our observations showed spawning in a human-made tailrace area, the fate of larvae produced here is unknown and warrants further research.

Publication Year 2020
Title Lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) spawn in the St. Marys River Rapids, Michigan
DOI 10.1016/j.jglr.2020.07.005
Authors Edward F. Roseman, Eric John Adams, Robin L. DeBruyne, J. Gostiaux, H. Harrington, K. Kapuscinski, A. Moerke, C. Olds
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Great Lakes Research
Index ID 70217542
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center