Using circulating reproductive hormones for sex determination of Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) in the Saco River estuary, Maine

Carolyn R. Wheeler, Ashleigh J. Novak, Gail S. Wippelhauser, James A. Sulikowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) is a long-lived, anadromous fish species ranging from Labrador, CA to Florida, USA. In the Saco River, located in the Gulf of Maine, this species was not present during a survey study ending in 1982, but was found inhabiting the estuary in 2007. Although the reason for the return of this sturgeon to this river system remains unknown, research on basic life-history information is necessary to facilitate the conservation of this federally protected species. Given the conservation status of the species, the present study used circulating sex steroid hormones to determine the sex of 288 Atlantic sturgeon captured between 2012 and 2014 in the Saco River estuary located in the Gulf of Maine. Overall, the sex was determined for 93% of Atlantic sturgeon sampled. Mean hormone values were similar to other Atlantic sturgeon reproductive studies. The findings indicate the validity of sex steroid hormones as a singular method for sex determination in wild Atlantic sturgeon. Results also indicated a likely 1:1 (male:female) sex ratio in the system, except in 2014 when a 1:3 ratio was observed. It is not believed that the Saco River estuary is used for spawning, as several impassable dams block access to spawning habitat. However, this area might provide crucial foraging for growth and development of juveniles and a habitat for adults forgoing spawning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbercow059
JournalConservation Physiology
Volume4
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Atlantic sturgeon
  • Non-lethal sampling
  • Sex determination
  • Steroid hormones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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