Saving the Green Sturgeon

A large fish floats above a muddy bottom in green-tinted water.
An adult green sturgeon in the Klamath river, northern California. Because little is known about the life histories of sturgeon, conservation strategies for water projects often focus on salmon instead. UC Davis researchers are building models to better understand these ancient fish. Photo by Thomas Dunklin, via NOAA.

Like salmon, green sturgeon hatch in California streams, migrate to spend most of their lives at sea and return to fresh water to spawn. But unlike the flashier salmon, much of the green sturgeon's life history is as murky as the waters in which the adults like to feed. They can live for up to 60 years and grow to great size for a freshwater fish -- but they do not begin to breed until they are about 15. 

Both salmon and sturgeon are threatened by habitat loss, water diversions and climate change. Conservation measures for water projects often focus on protecting salmon, which are better understood and have a higher public profile. But steps to protect salmon may not help sturgeon.

Erin Tracy, a graduate student in the UC Davis Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, is working with Professors Andrew Rypel and Nann Fangue to develop new models to understand the lives of green sturgeon. Read more about her work in this California WaterBlog post. 

Media Resources

Green Sturgeon aren’t Salmon: Updated life cycle models for management (California WaterBlog/Center for Watershed Sciences)

Primary Category

Secondary Categories

Science and Climate