We developed a movement model to examine the distribution and survival of white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) in a reservoir subject to large spatial and temporal variation in dissolved oxygen and temperature. Temperature and dissolved oxygen were simulated by a CE-QUAL-W2 model of Brownlee Reservoir, Idaho for a typical wet, normal, and dry hydrologic year. We compared current water quality conditions to scenarios with reduced nutrient inputs to the reservoir. White sturgeon habitat quality was modeled as a function of temperature, dissolved oxygen and, in some cases, suitability for foraging and depth. We assigned a quality index to each cell along the bottom of the reservoir. The model simulated two aspects of daily movement. Advective movement simulated the tendency for animals to move toward areas with high habitat quality, and diffusion simulated density dependent movement away from areas with high sturgeon density in areas with non-lethal habitat conditions. Mortality resulted when sturgeon were unable to leave areas with lethal temperature or dissolved oxygen conditions. Water quality was highest in winter and early spring and lowest in mid to late summer. Limiting nutrient inputs reduced the area of Brownlee Reservoir with lethal conditions for sturgeon and raised the average habitat suitability throughout the reservoir. Without movement, simulated white sturgeon survival ranged between 45 and 89%. Allowing movement raised the predicted survival of sturgeon under all conditions to above 90% as sturgeon avoided areas with low habitat quality. ?? 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Modeling white sturgeon movement in a reservoir: The effect of water quality and sturgeon density