Several USA state, federal, and Canadian agencies study lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) within the St Clair River and Lake St Clair, collectively referred to hereafter as the St Clair River (SCR) system. Previously, there has been no set standard for determining condition for SCR system lake sturgeon. Condition measures the variation from the expected weight for length as an indicator of fatness, general well-being, gonad development, etc. The aim of this project was to determine the length-weight relationship of lake sturgeon caught from the SCR system, from which a relative condition factor (Kn) equation could be derived. Total length (TL, mm) and weight (W, kg) were measured for 1074 lake sturgeon (101 males and 16 females were identifiable) collected by setline and bottom trawl from the SCR system in May-September, 1997-2002. Analysis of covariance found no difference in the length-weight relationship between sampling gear or sex. Least-squares regression of log10W x log10TL produced the overall equation logW = 3.365logTL - 9.320. Using the exponential form of the slope and y-intercept, relative condition factor for lake sturgeon from the SCR system can be calculated as Kn = W/ [(4.786 x 10-10)(TL3.365)]. Equations for males and females were also developed. Overall, body condition was significantly correlated with both age and girth; no significant difference in Kn by sex was found. In general, the SCR lake sturgeon population was near the upper ends of growth and condition ranges listed in the literature, comparable with those populations that are at similar latitudes. Although condition factors should be interpreted with caution, proper use of a standard equation provides a non-lethal measure of overall fish health that can be used by biologists and managers in ongoing efforts to restore lake sturgeon throughout the Great Lakes.
Additional publication details
Length-weight relationship and a relative condition factor equation for lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) from the St. Clair River system (Michigan, USA)