White sturgeon Acipenser transmontanus occur in rivers of the western United States and southwestern Canada, but some populations are in decline because of recruitment failure. Many river systems in this area have been altered as a result of development that has caused major environmental changes. Our goal was to examine how three changes - lower turbidity levels, higher light levels, and altered substrates - might affect predation by prickly sculpin Cottus asper on white sturgeon larvae. We experimentally investigated predation at various turbidity levels and found that significantly more white sturgeon yolk sac larvae were eaten at lower turbidity levels. The effects of light level (1-4 and 7-15 1x), the presence or absence of rocks as cover, and prey size (14-17 mm and 20-24 mm total length) on the outcome of predator-prey interactions were also examined. Significantly fewer white sturgeon were eaten during trials that combined the lowest light level, cover, and the smallest larvae. Our results suggest that altered river conditions caused by impoundment and other factors have increased predation on white sturgeon larvae. ?? Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 2005.
Additional Publication Details
Effects of turbidity, light level, and cover on predation of white sturgeon larvae by prickly sculpins