Current White sturgeon research is split into 3 active areas below. Please click on each one for a detailed description.
Spawning research consists of monitoring spawning events in previously identified spawning locations, as well as looking for new spawning locations. This monitoring is conducted to identify when and how frequently spawning occurs and more recently, to determine numbers of adults spawning at different locations.
Egg mats are the primary method used to collect fertilized eggs in the River. These are large steel framed mats containing coarse material (e.g. furnace filter material) that lay on the river bottom in spawning areas. When a female sturgeon spawns, she broadcasts her eggs near the bottom of the river. The eggs are sticky and adhere to the mat material. When the mats are retrieved, the eggs are counted and staged to estimate when the spawning even occurred (based on the development of the egg and the temperature of the river). These data provide insight into the number of spawning events that occur in a given year. These data are then examined in comparison to water temperatures and river flows to help determine spawning cues and describe the reproductive biology of white sturgeon. A small number of the fertilized eggs are incubated at the site to improve survival to hatch and collect tissue for genetic analysis.
Another method used to monitor white sturgeon spawning events is drift nets. Drift nets are used to monitor the dispersal of larval white sturgeon, and to aid in finding new spawning locations. These nets are also successful in collecting fertilized eggs when placed immediately downstream from known spawning locations. This method was successful in recently identifying a new spawning location HLK and ALGS. The drift nets have a metal framed opening in the shape of a “D” (these nets are also known as “D-Rings”), with a 3 metre tapering net with a collection bottle attached to it. The net sits just off of the bottom of the river, allowing white sturgeon larvae drifting passively with the current to be captured (photo here?) in the collection bottle. The nets are retrieved twice daily, where the collection bottles are changed and the material in the collection bottle is checked for larval white sturgeon presence (suggesting spawning took place upstream of that location. This technique has identified a spawning location downstream of the Kinnaird bridge, a location that will be the focus of monitoring in the coming years.