Shifting Distributions of Adult Atlantic Sturgeon Amidst Post-Industrialization and Future Impacts in the Delaware River: a Maximum Entropy Approach

Citation:
Breece, MW, Oliver MJ, Cimino MA, Fox DA.  2013.  Shifting Distributions of Adult Atlantic Sturgeon Amidst Post-Industrialization and Future Impacts in the Delaware River: a Maximum Entropy Approach. PLoS ONE. 8: Public Library of Science

Date Published:

11

Abstract:

Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) experienced severe declines due to habitat destruction and overfishing beginning in the late 19th century. Subsequent to the boom and bust period of exploitation, there has been minimal fishing pressure and improving habitats. However, lack of recovery led to the 2012 listing of Atlantic sturgeon under the Endangered Species Act. Although habitats may be improving, the availability of high quality spawning habitat, essential for the survival and development of eggs and larvae may still be a limiting factor in the recovery of Atlantic sturgeon. To estimate adult Atlantic sturgeon spatial distributions during riverine occupancy in the Delaware River, we utilized a maximum entropy (MaxEnt) approach along with passive biotelemetry during the likely spawning season. We found that substrate composition and distance from the salt front significantly influenced the locations of adult Atlantic sturgeon in the Delaware River. To broaden the scope of this study we projected our model onto four scenarios depicting varying locations of the salt front in the Delaware River: the contemporary location of the salt front during the likely spawning season, the location of the salt front during the historic fishery in the late 19th century, an estimated shift in the salt front by the year 2100 due to climate change, and an extreme drought scenario, similar to that which occurred in the 1960’s. The movement of the salt front upstream as a result of dredging and climate change likely eliminated historic spawning habitats and currently threatens areas where Atlantic sturgeon spawning may be taking place. Identifying where suitable spawning substrate and water chemistry intersect with the likely occurrence of adult Atlantic sturgeon in the Delaware River highlights essential spawning habitats, enhancing recovery prospects for this imperiled species.

Notes:

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DOI:

10.1371/journal.pone.0081321