Continuous monitoring of the movements and depths used by white sturgeon Acipenser transmontanus with acoustic telemetry technologies in the lower Columbia River provided information on diel and seasonal migrations, local movements, and site fidelity. White sturgeon moved to shallower water at night and showed greater activity, inferred from rates of movement, than during daytime. The extent of local movement within a season was variable among fish; some fish readily moved among habitats while the movements of others were more constrained. White sturgeon were absent from the study area (river kilometers 45-52) during winter and returned from upstream during the spring, confirming an upstream seasonal migration in the fall and downstream migration in spring. The return of individual fish and reoccupation of areas previously inhabited showed that some white sturgeon exhibit site fidelity. This work shows that studies seeking to characterize habitat for white sturgeon need to be cognizant of diel migrations and site fidelity. We urge caution in the use of limited fish location data to describe habitats if diel activities and fine-scale movements are not known.
Additional publication details
Seasonal and diel movements of white sturgeon in the lower columbia river