Lake Sturgeon Project


This is a Cooperative project with Voyageurs National Park, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, South Dakota State University, Quetico Provincial Park, and the Superior National Forest (SNF). The on-going objectives of the project are to: (1) establish baseline information on presence and distribution of lake sturgeon in the upper Rainy River watershed, (2) gather population characteristics of fish captured (age/sex/size structure), (3) make inferences on the relative importance of individual spawning locations, movements between lakes and spawning sites, population size and characteristics, and genetics.


Equipment used included gill-nets to collect, measure, tag, and release juvenile lake sturgeon. Data collected included: (1) Capture effort and success by mesh size (2) Site conditions and location (3) Standard Fish measurements (Total Length, Fork Length, Girth, Mass), and (4) tissue clip for aging and DNA analysis.


Often referenced as a relic from the age of dinosaurs, the Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) is a Minnesota state-listed species of special concern and listed by the US Forest Service as a Regional Forester Sensitive Species. Hydroelectric dams and habitat loss threaten this already rare fish. In 2007, Voyageurs National Park, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, South Dakota State University and the Superior National Forest joined forces to learn more about these prehistoric fish in a study of sturgeon in the Namakan Reservoir system along the US-Canadian border. In 2007-2009, adult sturgeon were caught by researchers using gill nets. Fish were carefully measured, tagged, implanted with a transmitter, and released after DNA and blood samples were collected. From these samples, researchers are able to determine a host of factors including age, sex, reproductive activity, and genetic diversity information. Biologists are quickly learning that these fish cover immense stretches of water in the Namakan Basin system. New this year (2010) was the addition of sampling for juvenile sturgeon to add a critical piece of information to the population structure of the sturgeon in the Namakan Basin.


Jason Butcher (218)626-4307


Voyageurs National Park , Minnesota Department of Natural Resources , Voyageurs National Park , South Dakota State University , Quetico Provincial Park


Lake Sturgeon, Superior National Forest

Figure 1: Lake Sturgeon, Superior National Forest

Juvenile Sturgeon, Superior Nat. Forest
Figure 2: Juvenile Sturgeon, Superior Nat. Forest