The effects of substrate composition on foraging behavior and growth rate of larval green sturgeon, Acipenser medirostris
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We investigated the effects of substrate composition on foraging behavior and growth rate of␣larval green sturgeon, Acipenser medirostris, in the␣laboratory at 20±1°C over a period of 5 weeks. Larval groups (n = 100) with mean wet weight (0.72 ± 0.01 g) at 50 days post-hatch were reared on slate-rocks, cobble, sand or glass. Typically, fish were negatively rheotactic and exhibited dispersed skimming behaviors on provided substrates during pre-feeding and feeding, respectively, but were all positively rheotactic during feeding. Fish reared on slate-rock substrates were negatively phototactic, remained benthic, and aggregated underneath the substrates. In all substrates except slate-rocks, fish displayed frequent episodes of burst and glide swimming activity, tank wall skimming and vertical swimming behaviors, however these behaviors ceased immediately during feeding and reappeared at the end of the feeding period. Substrate composition led to variable foraging effectiveness and likely contributed to significant differences in specific growth rates (2.28, 1.14, 1.77, and 2.27% body weight per day) and mortality (7%, 40%, 11%, 0%) among the treatment groups; slate-rocks, cobble, sand, and glass, respectively. There were no significant differences in morphometrics, somatotopic indices, and whole-body lipid content among treatment groups at the end of the experiment. The present findings indicate that certain substrates in artificial/natural habitats may negatively affect larval growth and may lead to decreased recruitment of juvenile green sturgeon in the wild.
KeywordsSpecific growth rate Anadromous
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The authors are grateful to the Yurok Indian Tribe and UC Davis for providing the larval green sturgeon. Special thanks to Anne Bishop, Joyce Lee, Karen Lee, Tom Nguyen, Danielle Sanger, and Javier Silva for their technical assistance. Rosalee is thankful to the NIH-Bridges Foundation for financial support under the SFSU-Student Enrichment Opportunities Program. (Grant #: 2R25-GM48972–05).
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