Main content area

Fine-scale movement of juvenile Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) during aggregations in the lower Saint John River Basin, New Brunswick, Canada

Whitmore, Margaret M., Litvak, Matthew K.
Canadian journal of fisheries and aquatic sciences 2018 v.75 no.12 pp. 2332-2342
Acipenser oxyrinchus, acoustics, aggregation behavior, algorithms, foraging, habitats, juveniles, littoral zone, multidimensional scaling, photoperiod, rearing, rivers, watersheds, New Brunswick
Juvenile Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) form seasonal aggregations near the salt wedge in their natal river systems. We used an array of Vemco positioning system acoustic receivers to track fine-scale movement within aggregation sites in two rivers in the Saint John River Basin. We used the t-LoCoH convex hull construction algorithm to map space use and aggregation behavior and nonmetric multidimensional scaling to test for differences among rivers, seasons, and photoperiods. Aggregation sites consisted of small core areas, where juvenile Atlantic sturgeon remained for long periods, that are adjacent to foraging grounds. This structure was largely consistent between rivers and seasons. Directional movement within aggregation sites differed between rivers. In areas of high flow velocity, directional movement was parallel to flow and largely restricted to littoral areas, whereas areas of low flow exhibited no distinct patterns in directional movement. This indicates flow may be an important driver of fine-scale distribution within aggregation sites. Studies of fine-scale space use can inform future investigations of rearing capacity, aid in the identification of critical habitat, and inform management decisions.