Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 95, Issue 2, pp 191–194 | Cite as

Using energy dispersive x-ray fluorescence microchemistry to infer migratory life history of Atlantic sturgeon

  • Matthew T. Balazik
  • Stephen P. McIninch
  • Greg C. Garman
  • Michael L. Fine
  • Clint B. Smith


Atlantic sturgeon migrate between ocean and freshwater habitats to spawn, and juveniles spend several years in fresh/brackish water before returning to the ocean. Because strontium/calcium (Sr/Ca) ratios are diagnostic for freshwater and marine environments, we examined the utility of energy-dispersive x-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) to quantify Sr/Ca ratios of Atlantic sturgeon pectoral fin spines. Atlantic sturgeon spines from wild adults and experimental juveniles were analyzed along a linear transect from the primordium to the outermost point. To verify the technique hatchery juvenile Atlantic sturgeon were held in experimental tanks at <0.5, 13–15, or 33–35‰ and sampled after 5 months. Sr/Ca ratios of experimental hatchery fish increased with salinity, and Sr/Ca ratios in wild adults varied predictably along the measurement transect. However, the ratio decreased in the outermost region of the spine in mature fish collected during a return to freshwater for spawning. Therefore EDXRF is a useful tool to track individual movements of Atlantic sturgeons and other diadromous fish.


Atlantic sturgeon Sturgeon spine Sr/Ca ratio Diadromy EDXRF 



We thank the Virginia Atlantic sturgeon restoration team and the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) Geospatial Research and Engineering Division – Photonics Imaging and Spectroscopy Laboratory located at George Mason University. We thank Brianna Langford for laboratory assistance. This is VCU Rice Center contribution number 20.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew T. Balazik
    • 1
  • Stephen P. McIninch
    • 1
  • Greg C. Garman
    • 1
  • Michael L. Fine
    • 2
  • Clint B. Smith
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Environmental StudiesVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  2. 2.Department if BiologyVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  3. 3.U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center Geospatial Research and Engineering Division AlexandriaAlexandriaUSA

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