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UGA researchers study threats to white sturgeon
Date:8/8/2011

Athens, Ga. University of Georgia researchers are working to understand why the nation's largest freshwater fish, the white sturgeon, is struggling in northern California's Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta, an environmentally endangered area suffering from declining fish populations and pollution.

Doug Peterson and Robert Bringolf, both with the UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, have begun work on the one-year, $200,000 joint project funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They will focus on two key objectives:

Determine which contaminants in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta might be hampering efforts to help the sturgeon population recover. The results of this project will determine the focus of future research projects, Bringolf said.

Evaluate the swimming performance of juvenile and sub-adult white sturgeon to better understand habitat needs at different life stages. "The white sturgeon has a complex life cycle that requires a diverse set of marine, estuarine and freshwater habitats," Peterson said. "By understanding how swimming performance of white sturgeon changes under different conditions, fisheries managers will be better able to protect critical habitats and to monitor populations in the wild."

The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is home to approximately 22 fish species, including the delta smelt, which is now on the endangered species list. It is also a popular recreation destination and an ideal location for agriculture because of its fertile soil. But the delta has been suffering from deteriorating levees, environmental pollution and declining fish populations. The white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus), a popular recreational fishery with a significant economic impact, is one of those fish under strife from the delta's problems.

Bringolf plans to perform a preliminary screening of the contaminants in fish tissue to determine which are accumulating in the sturgeon. He'll a
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Contact: Sandi Martin
smartin@warnell.uga.edu
706-542-2079
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert

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