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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Estuarine Habitat Use by White Sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus)


White Sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus), a species of concern in the San Francisco Estuary, is in relatively low abundance due to a variety of factors.  The purpose of our study was to identify the estuarine habitat used by White Sturgeon to aid in the conservation and management of the species locally and across its range. We seasonally sampled sub-adult and adult White Sturgeon in the central estuary using setlines across a habitat gradient representative of three primary structural elements: shallow wetland channels (mean sample depth = 2 m), shallow open-water shoal (mean sample depth = 2 m), and deep open-water channel (mean sample depth = 7 m). We found that the shallow open-water shoal and deep open-water channel habitats were consistently occupied by White Sturgeon in spring, summer, and fall across highly variable water quality conditions, whereas the shallow wetland channel habitat was essentially unoccupied. We conclude that sub-adult and adult White Sturgeon inhabit estuaries in at least spring, summer, and fall and that small, shallow wetland channels are relatively unoccupied.

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