Date of Award

12-1-2011

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Zoology

First Advisor

Garvey, James

Abstract

Scaphirhynchus sturgeons are species of concern throughout their ranges. To revitalize their populations, a thorough understanding of their habitat use during all life stages is critical. However, limited information exists about fine-scale habitat use during early life. To determine the feasibility of using radio telemetry to monitor habitat use in the field, I assessed growth and survival of age-0 sturgeon tagged with 0.2 g, non-functioning telemetry tags during an eight-week period in a controlled setting and then tested field performance in the Middle Mississippi River (MMR). Three treatments were evaluated: 1) control, 2) internally implanted tags, and 3) externally attached tags. Growth and survival varied across treatment groups (all comparisons P<0.05). Sturgeon with internally implanted tags grew slowly and had low survival, while sturgeon within the control group and those with external tags grew faster and had higher survival (~100%). A trial was conducted to determine swimming performance of each of the treatment groups, which resulted in no differences in critical swimming speed among the tag types. Based on these results, a field-based telemetry evaluation was performed to determine if it is feasible to monitor fine-scale habitat use. Four wild, age-0 Scaphirhynchus sturgeon were externally tagged with functioning radio transmitters in the MMR. After less than 24-h, the tagged fish were no longer detectable, likely due to environmental conditions (e.g., extreme depths and high conductivity). Thus, efforts should be directed to creating a small telemetry transmitter that uses technology (e.g., ultrasonic) that transmits well in deep rivers while maintaining a minimum tag weight and maximizing battery life. Fine scale habitat use of age-0 sturgeon may ultimately be able to be quantified in the MMR and other deep rivers in the future, if technologies improve.

Share

COinS
 

Access

This thesis is only available for download to the SIUC community. Others should
contact the interlibrary loan department of your local library.