Coffee Hour: Eggs to die for: the uncertain future of an ancient survivor

Friday, February 12, 2016 - 3:30pm
Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m. The lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.


Doug Peterson and sturgeon

About the talk

Sturgeons are among the most ancient and enigmatic fishes found in our oceans, lakes, rivers, and estuaries, yet despite ongoing efforts to conserve their wild populations, most species are either threatened or endangered with extinction. Within the state of Georgia, for example, three of the four native species are Federally listed under the ESA, while the fourth was only recently reintroduced after being extirpated for nearly 30 years. Recent efforts to restore populations have required quantitative data from both field and laboratory studies that often employ modern research technologies to track movements, assess reproductive status, and to estimate abundances of wild populations, particularly in relation to successful spawning. Similar methods have also been developed for the rapidly growing aquaculture industry that seeks to replace wild sources of sturgeon meat and caviar with sustainably operated sturgeon farms. Data from both laboratory and field studies have greatly improved our basic understanding of sturgeon life history, population dynamics, and critical habitats but many challenges to saving these ancient fish still remain. The purpose of this presentation is to (1) introduce the audience to diversity, global distribution, and general life history of Acipenserid species; (2) to identify both the historical causes of population declines as well as current impediments to species recovery; and (3) to highlight the importance of modern fisheries science in providing new information regarding life history and population dynamics that can form the basis for conservation and restoration of North American sturgeons.

About the speaker

Doug PetersonDouglas L. Peterson is a professor of Fisheries Research in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at University of Georgia. He earned a B.S. from Oberlin College, an M.S. from Michigan State University, and his Ph.D. from Penn State. The primary focus of his research program is on understanding how the life history and population dynamics of exploited fishes are affected by human influences such as harvest and habitat alteration. Peterson is particularly interested in the life history and population dynamics of North American sturgeons. My current research includes several federally funded studies on population dynamics and seasonal habitat use of Shortnose Sturgeon, Gulf Sturgeon, and Atlantic sturgeon in the Southeastern US. Specific objectives of these research projects vary, but common themes focus on seasonal movements, habitat use, and the delineation of critical habitats for both juvenile and adult sturgeons. Several recently continuing (or recently completed) studies have focused on quantitative population assessments of Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon in several of Georgia’s large coastal rivers.

Suggested reading

  • Farrae, D., S. Albeke, K. Pacifici, N. Nibbelink, and D. Peterson. Movements of the shortnose sturgeon relative to habitat in the Ogeechee River, Georgia. 2014. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. DOI:10.1007/s10641-013-0170-2.
  • Bednaski, M., and D. Peterson Abundance and size structure of Shortnose Sturgeon Acipenser brevirostrum in the Altamaha River, Georgia. 2013. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. 142:1444–1452.        

Contact us

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Coffee Hour