Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2015NY222B

Population and DPS Origin of Subadult Atlantic Sturgeon in the Hudson River

Institute: New York
Year Established: 2015 Start Date: 2015-03-01 End Date: 2016-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $18,980 Total Non-Federal Funds: $41,455

Principal Investigators: Isaac Wirgin

Abstract: At one time, Atlantic sturgeon supported a signature fishery in the Hudson River Estuary and identification of its migratory patterns is listed as a priority under Long Range Target 1 of the Actions Planned for 2010-2014 (Effectively Managing Migratory Fish). This study will provide important new data that will be used by state and federal agencies to manage Atlantic sturgeon in the Hudson River ecosystem and coastwide. Atlantic sturgeon is federally listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) as five Distinct Population Segments (DPS), of which four were designated as “endangered” and one as “threatened.” The New York Bight DPS is comprised of the Hudson and Delaware River populations and is listed as “endangered.” Subadult Atlantic sturgeon are known to exit their natal estuaries to coastal waters and non-natal estuaries where they are vulnerable to distant anthropogenic threats. However, the population and DPS composition of migratory subadult Atlantic sturgeon in the Hudson River or other non- natal estuaries has never been experimentally addressed although Section 7 of the ESA demands that origin of individual specimens be determined. Genetic analysis is the only tool that can be used to identify the population or DPS origin of subadult Atlantic sturgeon outside of their natal estuaries. In this study, we will use microsatellite DNA analysis at 11 informative loci and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region sequence analysis to determine the population and DPS origin of up to 200 subadult Atlantic sturgeon of varying sizes collected from throughout the tidal Hudson River. This analysis will permit the quantification of the effects of anthropogenic threats in different locales or across seasons in the Hudson River Estuary on individual populations or DPS of Atlantic sturgeon and will serve as a model for similar population composition analysis for other estuaries coastwide.