Dwindling numbers of shortnose sturgeon in Georgia's blackwater Ogeechee River system have prompted an effort to quantify the causes and prioritize recovery efforts.
Yetta Jager and colleagues at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are conducting a population viability analysis, which will provide a scientific basis for assessing cumulative and separate effects of factors thought to be impacting the shortnose sturgeon population.
These factors include siltation of spawning areas, degradation of water quality in summer due to upstream agriculture, urban development and military land management, atmospheric mercury and introduction of saline water introduction through rice canals.
While 19 distinct populations of shortnose sturgeon have been identified in coastal rivers, only two southern populations are thought to be viable. The Ogeechee population has fewer than 500 fish.
Jager is working in cooperation with field efforts conducted by Fort Stewart and Doug Peterson at the University of Georgia in this three-year project, which is funded through the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program.
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