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Appendix A: Studies to Address Identified Knowledge Gaps for White Sturgeon

Note: This table was developed as part of the National Recovery Strategy for the six populations of white sturgeon.  Scores were provided in this table to give some idea of priority across the different populations (Steve McAdam, B.C. Ministry of Environment, personal communication).  The Columbia Basin Team used the original scoring method to update priorities from the 2006 document.  Basins sharing the same score are presented based on geography from west to east.  In 2012, this table was updated to include the status of each study, as an indication of progress towards addressing knowledge gaps. Some changes to the study descriptions and rationales have also been made for increased clarity.  Though studies are prioritized, studies may also be completed opportunistically by partners, as resources allow.

Table A-1. Prioritized studies to address identified knowledge gaps for white sturgeon. There are six columns read left to right: Life Stage, Study, Rationale for study, Score, and Status. There are 98 rows, each representing the characteristics of a single study that addresses knowledge gaps for white sturgeon. Of these studies, 33 were directed at Columbia populations (five fully, and seven partially completed), 19 were directed at the Nechako population (seven partially completed), five were directed at the Kootenay population (one partially completed), 11 were directed at the Mid-Fraser population (one partially completed), 12 were directed at the Lower Fraser

Table A-1. Prioritized studies to address identified knowledge gaps for white sturgeon.
PopulationLife StageStudyRationale for studyScoreStatus
Columbia - downstream of HLK DamIncubation - Juvenile RearingInvestigate substrate preferences of yolk sac larvae to assist in understanding which habitats and life stages are limiting, including a literature review for evidence that substrate condition can be responsible for limited recruitment among sturgeon species.Releases of hatchery juveniles have resulted in reasonable survivals, and wild eggs are also known to be viable.  Combined with links between substrate change at spawning sites and recruitment failure, this strongly suggests substrate mediated effects on early life stage survival.  Understanding the nature of substrate conditions affecting early life stage habitats of sturgeons should assist in characterizing survival bottlenecks.  Early life stage habitat preferences will need to be documented to determine which habitats are limiting and how they can be restored.24Completed. Key results are presented in:

Crossman, J. A. and L. R. Hildebrand. 2011. Evaluation of spawning substrate enhancement for white sturgeon in a regulated river: Effects on larval retention and dispersal. Revelstoke Unit 5 Project, B.C. Hydro, Castlegar, BC

McAdam, S. 2011. Effects of substrate condition on habitat use and survival by white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) larvae and potential implications for recruitment. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 68:812-822. 

McAdam, S. O. 2012. Diagnosing white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) recruitment failure and the importance of substrate condition to yolksac larvae survival. Ph.D. Thesis. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.
Columbia - transboundaryEarly life historyInvestigate behaviour of yolk sac larvae and larvae to determine factors affecting habitat selection, drift triggers and mortality.  This would include experimental releases of yolk sac larvae from the conservation aquaculture program.There is continued uncertainty regarding white sturgeon larval behaviour and factors that affect them (e.g., drift vs. hiding behaviours).  Early life stage behaviours, habitat preferences and sources of mortality will need to be documented to characterize recruitment failure mechanism(s).24

Completed. Key results are presented in:

Crossman, J. A. and L. R. Hildebrand. 2011. Evaluation of spawning substrate enhancement for white sturgeon in a regulated river: Effects on larval retention and dispersal. Revelstoke Unit 5 Project, B.C. Hydro, Castlegar, B.C.

Golder Associates Ltd. 2013. Evaluation of Substrate in the White Sturgeon Spawning Area Below Arrow Lakes Generating Station (ALH). Report prepared for Columbia Power Corporation and B.C. Hydro, Castlegar, B.C. Golder Report No. 13-1492-0021F: 22 pp + 2 App.

McAdam, S. 2011. Effects of substrate condition on habitat use and survival by white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) larvae and potential implications for recruitment. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 68:812-822.

McAdam, S. O. 2012. Diagnosing white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) recruitment failure and the importance of substrate condition to yolksac larvae survival. Ph.D. Thesis. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.

NechakoEarly life historyInvestigation of habitat preference and utilization during early life history.Due to the links between substrate change ad recruitment failure, substrate preferences during early life history will be an important determinant of mitigative measures.23Partially Completed. Results from lab studies and field studies in the Nechako and Columbia rivers provide useful results. Key results are presented in:

Crossman, J. A. and L. R. Hildebrand. 2011. Evaluation of spawning substrate enhancement for white sturgeon in a regulated river: Effects on larval retention and dispersal. Revelstoke Unit 5 Project, B.C. Hydro, Castlegar, B.C. 

McAdam, S. 2011. Effects of substrate condition on habitat use and survival by white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) larvae and potential implications for recruitment. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 68:812-822.

McAdam, S. O. 2012. Diagnosing white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) recruitment failure and the importance of substrate condition to yolksac larvae survival. Ph.D. Thesis. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.
Columbia - downstream of HLK DamEarly life historyInvestigate food preferences and availability of food sources for larvae during initial stages of exogenous feeding.Although early life stage survival is the likely recruitment bottleneck, the impact mechanisms are uncertain.   Early life stage food preferences and availability need to be documented to determine whether they are limiting.23Ongoing.  Studies are examining food consumption of wild larvae, and food availability.  Future studies also plan to address this question by evaluating recruitment success following experimental larval releases.
KootenayLarvalLab, modelling and in situ study of larval drift and behaviour.Understanding substrate preference as well as spatial and temporal extent of larval drift will help define critical habitat for this life stage below the Idaho spawning reach in Canada.23Partially Completed. Results from lab studies and field studies in the Columbia River provide useful results. Key results are presented in:

Paragamian, V. L., R. McDonald, G. J. Nelson, and G. Barton. 2009. Kootenai River velocities, depth, and white sturgeon spawning site selection – a mystery unraveled? Journal of Applied Ichthyology 5:640-646. 

Crossman, J. A. and L. R. Hildebrand. 2011. Evaluation of spawning substrate enhancement for white sturgeon in a regulated river: Effects on larval retention and dispersal. Revelstoke Unit 5 Project, B.C. Hydro, Castlegar, B.C. 

McAdam, S. 2011. Effects of substrate condition on habitat use and survival by white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) larvae and potential implications for recruitment. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 68:812-822. 

McAdam, S. O. 2012. Diagnosing white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) recruitment failure and the importance of substrate condition to yolksac larvae survival. Ph.D. Thesis. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.

Kynard, B., E. Parker, and B. Kynard. 2010. Ontogenetic behavior of Kootenai River White Sturgeon, Acipenser transmontanus, with a note on body color: A laboratory study. Environmental Biology of Fishes 88:65-77.
NechakoEarly life historyDrift duration and timing.Spatial and temporal extent of larval drift will define habitat- recruitment bottleneck as well as the spatial extent and location of habitat restoration needs.22Partially Completed. Key results are presented in:

McAdam, S. 2011. Effects of substrate condition on habitat use and survival by white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) larvae and potential implications for recruitment. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 68:812-822. 

McAdam, S. O. 2012. Diagnosing white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) recruitment failure and the importance of substrate condition to yolksac larvae survival. Ph.D. Thesis. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.
Columbia - downstream of HLK DamSpawning - Juvenile RearingOnce the life stage and habitat conditions contributing to recruitment failure have been identified, suitable habitat remediation options will be reviewed and assessed for feasibility as appropriate below HLK Dam.Based on Recruitment Failure Hypothesis Review (RFHR) hypotheses, this work would identify the likely causes of recruitment failure and research required to assess the feasibility of mitigative options and define pilot experiments.22

Partially Completed. Results from lab studies and field studies in the Columbia River provide useful results. Key results are presented in:

Crossman, J. A. and L. R. Hildebrand. 2011. Evaluation of spawning substrate enhancement for white sturgeon in a regulated river: Effects on larval retention and dispersal. Revelstoke Unit 5 Project, B.C. Hydro, Castlegar, B.C. 

Golder Associates Ltd. 2013. Evaluation of Substrate in the White Sturgeon Spawning Area Below Arrow Lakes Generating Station (ALH). Report prepared for Columbia Power Corporation and B.C. Hydro, Castlegar, B.C. Golder Report No. 13-1492-0021F: 22 pp + 2 App

McAdam, S. O. 2012. Diagnosing white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) recruitment failure and the importance of substrate condition to yolksac larvae survival. Ph.D. Thesis. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.

Columbia - upstream of HLK DamEarly life history- Juvenile RearingAssess effects of low temperatures on larval and juvenile development, growth and survival.Cooler spawning, incubation and early life stage thermal regimes may limit the potential for establishing sustainable sturgeon stocks in upper Columbia reaches.22Partially Completed. Results from lab studies are useful:

Parsley, M.J., E. Kofoot, T. Blubaugh, 2011. Mid-Columbia sturgeon incubation and rearing study (Year 2) (PDF 850 KB) . Administrative Report to British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority, 2010-2011. Castlegar, B.C. 29 p.

Boucher, M. 2012. The effect of substrate rearing on the growth, development, and survival of larval white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) during early ontogeny. M.Sc. Thesis. University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, B.C.
Columbia - upstream of HLK DamSpawning - IncubationAssess effects of low temperatures on spawning activity and success.Cooler spawning, incubation and early life stage thermal regimes may limit the potential for establishing sustainable sturgeon stocks in upper Columbia reaches.22Complete.  Water Licence Requirement monitoring study CLBMON-27 assessed influence of temperature on habitats downstream of REV.  Results are available in:

B.C. Hydro. 2012. Columbia River White Sturgeon Management Plan Monitoring Program and Physical Works Annual Report: 2012. Prepared by B.C. Hydro, Castlegar B.C. 
Columbia - upstream of HLK DamEarly life historyInvestigation of habitat requirements of yolk sac larvae and larvae to assist in understanding which habitats and life stages are limiting.Early life stage habitat preferences will need to be documented to determine which habitats are limiting and how they can be restored.22Partially Completed. Results from lab studies and field studies in the Columbia River provide useful results. Key results are presented in:

Crossman, J. A. and L. R. Hildebrand. 2011. Evaluation of spawning substrate enhancement for white sturgeon in a regulated river: Effects on larval retention and dispersal. Revelstoke Unit 5 Project, B.C. Hydro, Castlegar, B.C. 

McAdam, S. O. 2012. Diagnosing white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) recruitment failure and the importance of substrate condition to yolksac larvae survival. Ph.D. Thesis. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.
Columbia - downstream of Hugh L. Keenleyside (HLK) DamIncubation - Juvenile RearingPlan and implement a baseline juvenile monitoring program to track trends in recruitment and survival in response to opportunistic high flow events and other environmental variables.Dams have resulted in hydrograph changes including reductions to freshet flows.  Limited natural recruitment still occurs in the Columbia downstream from HLK, and may be related to higher than average flow conditions or possibly lower FDR elevations during the post-hatch period.21Ongoing. B.C. Hydro monitors juvenile abundance and distribution as part of its Water Licence Requirements programs.
Columbia - downstream of HLK DamEarly life historyDevelop and apply sampling procedures to understand factors affecting habitat and food suitability and availability for 15-40 day old larvae.Releases of hatchery juveniles have resulted in reasonable survivals, and wild eggs are also known to be viable.  This strongly suggests an early life stage bottleneck as the mechanism of recruitment failure.  Early life stage habitat preferences will need to be documented to determine which habitats are limiting and how they can be restored.21Partially completed: Results presented in:

Golder Associates Ltd. 2012. Summary of White Sturgeon Food Items Within Samples Taken Downstream of Hugh L. Keenleyside Dam. Technical Memo prepared for B.C. Hydro and Columbia Power Corporation, Castlegar, B.C. by Golder Associates Ltd., Castlegar B.C. Golder Technical Memo No. 12-1492-0119: 11 p.
Columbia - upstream of HLK DamSpawningSpawn monitoring and flow modelling associated with proposed spawning operations tests used to assess hydrograph effects on spawning habitat and activity.Spawning habitats below REV Dam are impacted by diel load shaping, as well as backwatering of the Arrow Lakes Reservoir.  Depth, velocity, and substrate conditions associated with operations should be determined. Flow options from REV Dam should be tested and sturgeon spawning activity and success monitored to determine if these impacts can be mitigated.21Ongoing.  Water Licence Requirement monitoring study CLBMON-20 is detailed hydraulic modeling of habitats downstream of REV.  Results are available in:

B.C. Hydro. 2012. Columbia River White Sturgeon Management Plan Monitoring Program and Physical Works Annual Report: 2012. Prepared by B.C. Hydro, Castlegar B.C. 
Columbia - upstream of HLK DamSpawning - Juvenile RearingAssess engineering options to provide warmer temperatures below REV Dam, which may result in improved spawning success and better egg, larval and juvenile development and survival.If feasible, remove or reduce the effects of upstream dams on thermal regime in the mid-Columbia River.21Partially Complete.  Water Licence Requirement monitoring study CLBWORKS-28 assessed feasibility of various physical works associated with White Sturgeon in the Columbia River.  Results are available in:

B.C. Hydro. 2012. Columbia River White Sturgeon Management Plan Monitoring Program and Physical Works Annual Report: 2012. Prepared by B.C. Hydro, Castlegar B.C. 

Further temperature monitoring work will begin in 2013.
Lower FraserEarly life historyConduct spawning and early juvenile rearing field assessments to determine important larval to early juvenile transition rearing habitats. Some Fraser mainstem and side channel spawning sites identified and timing confirmed through works conducted in 1999.  Additional works needed to confirm timing and full extent of habitat use including potential sub-populations.  Habitats undergo significant annual physical changes.  Potential to have greatest opportunity to affect recruitment in this population.20Partially completed. Some assessments were conducted in 2010 and 2011 see:

Paradis, E., Sykes, G., Liebe, R. English, A. and Johnston, S. 2011 (draft). Fraser River sturgeon sampling and monitoring program 2011. Prepared for Emergency Management B.C., Victoria B.C. December 2011[PDF 50 MB].
Lower FraserJuvenile RearingConduct dedicated field assessments to determine or re-confirm extent of important juvenile rearing habitats. Compare results of assessments with previous assessments if available.Very limited information available for 25 day to 1 year age class.  Previous comprehensive assessment conducted between 1985 and 1993, and recent less comprehensive study conducted in 2007 and 2008 confirmed age 1+ use in some habitats.  Habitat use confirmed similar to late juvenile and adult.20Not completed.
NechakoSpawningIdentify spawning window (temporal).Hydrograph and thermograph in regulated system variable (cues for spawning), therefore need to better understand.20Ongoing.  Spawn monitoring was conducted in most years since 2004. See:

Triton Environmental Consultants. 2009. Nechako white sturgeon monitoring 2009. Unpubl. report for B.C. Ministry of Environment, Prince George, B.C. 73 pp.
NechakoJuvenile RearingReview environmental/ biological variables in context of recruitment pulses.Very little information exists on this life stage.20Not completed.
Columbia - downstream of HLK DamEarly life historyInvestigate the habitats of yolk sac larvae and larvae to determine where and how survival bottlenecks for these life stages occur.Modify as in similar rows above.    Substrate condition in the vicinity of spawning sites is strongly implicated as the mechanism of recruitment failure.  The location of early life stage habitats need to be documented to determine the nature of these habitats and how they can be restored.20Partially Completed. Key results are available for other locations and are presented in:

Crossman, J. A. and L. R. Hildebrand. 2011. Evaluation of spawning substrate enhancement for white sturgeon in a regulated river: Effects on larval retention and dispersal. Revelstoke Unit 5 Project, B.C. Hydro, Castlegar, B.C. 

McAdam, S. 2011. Effects of substrate condition on habitat use and survival by white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) larvae and potential implications for recruitment. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 68:812-822. 

McAdam, S. O. 2012. Diagnosing white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) recruitment failure and the importance of substrate condition to yolksac larvae survival. Ph.D. Thesis. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.
Columbia - downstream of HLK DamEarly life history - Juvenile RearingDetermine the relationship between habitat availability, use and growth and survival.This work is required to assess appropriate levels of stocking for ongoing conservation aquaculture.  As well, the work can be applied to earlier life stages to assess the exact life stage timing of recruitment failure.20Several Water Licence Requirement monitoring studies are assessing juvenile survival and habitat use.  Results are available in:

B.C. Hydro. 2012. Columbia River White Sturgeon Management Plan Monitoring Program and Physical Works Annual Report: 2012. Prepared by B.C. Hydro, Castlegar B.C. 
Columbia - downstream of HLK DamIncubation - Juvenile RearingComplete literature review to assess role of predation in recruitment failure.Predation is a component in a number of hypotheses' impact pathways and may therefore be linked to recruitment reduction or failure.  Changes in freshet volume, turbidity levels, substrate condition, and other habitat parameters should be explored to understand effects on the relationship between young sturgeon and their predators.20Not completed.
Columbia - upstream of HLK DamEarly life history  - Juvenile RearingEarly life stage habitat flow modelling associated with proposed spawning operations tests to assess changing availability of habitat under a range of river discharge and reservoir operation regimes.Associated with spawn monitoring and flow modelling below REV Dam, this study would assess the effect of proposed spawning flows on availability of early life stage habitat.20Ongoing.  Water Licence Requirement monitoring study CLBMON-20 is detailed hydraulic modeling of habitats downstream of REV.  Results are available in:

B.C. Hydro. 2012. Columbia River White Sturgeon Management Plan Monitoring Program and Physical Works Annual Report: 2012. Prepared by B.C. Hydro, Castlegar B.C. 
KootenaySpawningImpact of lake levels on spawner access upstream of Bonners Ferry, Idaho.Implications of US studies suggest lack of lake backflooding has affected spawning site selection in US.20Not completed.
Upper FraserIncubationSpatial and Temporal.No information exists on this life stage.19Not completed.
Upper FraserIncubationHabitat/ Habitat Quality.No information exists on this life stage.19Not completed.
Upper FraserEarly life historySpatial and Temporal.No information exists on this life stage.19Not completed.
Upper FraserEarly life historyFood requirements.No information exists on this life stage.19Not completed.
NechakoIncubationEgg deposition and drift.Need for refinement of spatial extent of incubation habitat.19Partially completed.  Hydraulic modeling of the Vanderhoof spawning area was completed by Northwest Hydraulic Consultants for current and pre-dam conditions.

Northwest Hydraulic Consultants. 2008. Nechako River at Vanderhoof: hydrodynamic model upgrade. Unpubl. report for B.C. Ministry of Environment, Victoria, B.C. 39 pp.
Columbia - all locationsIncubation - Juvenile RearingExamine whether Upper Columbia substrate conditions within key areas may have limited recruitment.Understanding the location and nature of substrate conditions throughout the area of early life stage habitats should assist in characterizing the survival bottleneck.  Pre-dam substrate modelling could describe conditions in which recruitment successfully occurred. 19Partially Completed. Results from lab studies and field studies in the Columbia River provide useful results. Key results are presented in:

Crossman, J. A. and L. R. Hildebrand. 2011. Evaluation of spawning substrate enhancement for white sturgeon in a regulated river: Effects on larval retention and dispersal. Revelstoke Unit 5 Project, B.C. Hydro, Castlegar, B.C. 

McAdam, S. 2011. Effects of substrate condition on habitat use and survival by white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) larvae and potential implications for recruitment. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 68:812-822. 

McAdam, S. O. 2012. Diagnosing white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) recruitment failure and the importance of substrate condition to yolksac larvae survival. Ph.D. Thesis. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.

Golder Associates Ltd. 2006. White sturgeon spawning at Waneta, 2005 investigations. Unpubl. report #05-1480-030F for Teck Cominco Metals, Trail, B.C. and B.C. Hydro, Castlegar, B.C. 40 pp. + 1 app.
Columbia - downstream of HLK DamEarly life history - Juvenile RearingDetermine the differences in habitat conditions in the reach between Northport and Kettle Falls during spawning and early rearing periods, and explore the relationship between habitat and hydro-operations in years with and without recruitment. There have been years during the period of virtual recruitment failure when natural recruitment has been detected.  The intent of this study is to examine the potential differences in habitat conditions under various snow pack levels and resulting hydro-operations that may facilitate increases in natural recruitment.19Not completed. Note: this study would occur in the US.
Columbia - downstream of HLK DamSpawning - incubationAssess effects of high temperatures on spawning and incubation success.Spawning at Waneta is affected by high water temperatures during the latter part of the spawning period.  These are high enough to affect embryo survival and development, and while unlikely to be a causal agent for recruitment failure, may be an exacerbating issue.19Not completed. Some relevant information contained in:
 
Parsley, M.J., E. Kofoot, T. Blubaugh, 2011. Mid-Columbia sturgeon incubation and rearing study (Year 2). Administrative Report to British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority, 2010-2011. Castlegar, B.C. 29 p.
KootenayAdult MigrationImpacts of low flow, temperature (high or low) on migration.Key information is lacking regarding cues for fish to move into spawning reach.19Not completed.
NechakoSpawningIdentify additional spawning sites (spatial).Fish could spawn at more the one spawning site or spawning sites may shift based on river conditions (temperature /flow).18Partially completed.  Information is collected as opportunities allow.  Some information exists of apparent spawning aggregations and behaviour.
NechakoIncubationTemperature limits of incubation.Nechako thermograph is variable with periodically high temperature, based on Wang (1985) may be link to recruitment failure.18Not completed.  Some relevant information contained in:

Boucher, M. 2012. The effect of substrate rearing on the growth, development, and survival of larval white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) during early ontogeny. M.Sc. Thesis. University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, B.C.
Nechako25d to 1yFood supply.Limited information exists for this life stage.18Not completed.  Questions related to possible food limitations during early life stages may be addressed in part through studies of recruitment following hatchery releases.
NechakoStagingMonitor pre-spawning movements.Little information exists- suspected that overlap occurs with overwintering.18Partially completed.  Information is collected as opportunities allow.  Some information exists of apparent spawning aggregations and behaviour.
NechakoStagingMonitor habitat use at putative staging locations.Little information exists for this life stage.18Partially completed.  Information is collected as opportunities allow.  Some information exists of apparent spawning aggregations and behaviour.
Columbia - all locationsAll life stagesAlign stock structure analysis with information on known ecosystem changes to develop impact timelines for each recruitment failure hypothesis.Hypotheses refer to those defined as significant by the RFHR. Historic recruitment patterns among various components of the population are key to understanding impacts to recruitment (pre and post failure and other river comparisons).18Completed. See chapter 4 of:

McAdam, S. O. 2012. Diagnosing white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) recruitment failure and the importance of substrate condition to yolksac larvae survival. Ph.D. Thesis. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.
Columbia - all locationsAll life stagesSynthesis of studies relating to historic population function, with workshop to assist in completing interpretation and developing report.This key step in the interpretation of historic data and recruitment trends was identified by the TWG during the RFHR and will guide future research and recovery efforts.18Not completed.
Columbia - downstream of HLK DamEarly life historyInvestigate the influence of predation on eggs under various Pend d'Oreille River flow regimes (specific to Waneta Expansion power development impact assessment).The Waneta spawning area is affected by dam operations on the Pend d’Oreille system, which are operated as load shaping facilities.  The Waneta Expansion Project, which will become operational in 2015, may add additional load shaping to the system.  Load shaped flows pre-date recruitment failure; however, some impacts to embryo survivals may occur from increased predation enhanced by shaped flows. The extent of this impact should be investigated, particularly if additional impacts are forecast from new developments. 18

Partially completed.  Results presented in:

Golder Associates Ltd. and LGL Ltd. 2013. White Sturgeon Egg Predation Monitoring at Waneta: 2012 Investigations. Report prepared for Columbia Power Corporation, Castlegar, B.C. by Golder Associates Ltd., Castlegar B.C .and LGL Environmental Ltd. Sydney, B.C. Golder Report No. 12-1492-003F:30 p.

Columbia - upstream of HLK DamSpawningAssess impacts of REV Dam load shaping on connectivity to spawning area for adults attempting to access from Big Eddy.Big Eddy is located in Revelstoke a short distance downstream from the spawning site at the Golf Course.  This site is a staging location for sturgeon using the upstream spawning area. Depending on the flows from REV Dam, a habitat connectivity issue could exist between the eddy and spawning area.  Minimum flows will be instituted in 2010 and may resolve this concern, but monitoring of adult movements should be conducted.18Not completed.
Columbia - upstream of HLK DamEarly life history - Juvenile RearingInvestigate habitat and feeding requirements and related availability between REV Dam and the Arrow Lakes reservoir.Juvenile rearing habitat in this area may be of limited availability due to unsuitable habitat parameters and food resources.  These limitations may be historical in nature or cause by current operating regimes, but should be investigated to understand their effect on growth, survival and recruitment. 18Ongoing.  Several Water Licence Requirement monitoring studies are assessing juvenile survival and habitat use.  Results are available in:

B.C. Hydro. 2012. Columbia River White Sturgeon Management Plan Monitoring Program and Physical Works Annual Report: 2012. Prepared by B.C. Hydro, Castlegar B.C. 
Lower FraserIncubationConduct dedicated spawning habitat field assessments to determine or re-confirm important incubation habitats. As for spawning sites. Some Fraser mainstem and side channel spawning sites identified and timing confirmed through works conducted in 1999.  Additional works needed to confirm timing and full extent of habitat use including potential sub-populations.  Habitats undergo significant annual physical changes.  No recent work has been conducted.17Not completed.
Upper FraserSpawningSpatial and Temporal.No information-required for other populations.17Not completed.
Upper FraserSpawningEnvironmental Cues.No information-required for other populations.17Not completed.
Upper FraserJuvenile RearingSpatial and Temporal.No information exists on this life stage.17Not completed.
NechakoSpawningRefine spatial extent of known site.Spatial extent of current site based on limited data (3 years).17Partially completed.  Information is collected as opportunities allow.
NechakoSpawningGenetic/ bony structure studiesGenetics has identified population structure in Columbia, finray microchemical/ genetics could help identify or determine likelihood of other spawning groups and/or sites in the Nechako River.17Not completed.
NechakoAdult Holding & FeedingFood requirements.Very little information exists for this stage in Nechako River.17Not completed.
Columbia - all locationsAll life stagesFinalize stock structure analysis including completion of fin ray microchemistry, genetics, aging re-evaluation and movement studies to determine possible historic breeding groups.Historic recruitment patterns among various components of the population are key to understanding impacts to recruitment (pre and post failure and other river comparisons).17Completed.  Results presented in:

Nelson, R.J., and D.S.O. McAdam. 2012. Historical population structure of White Sturgeon in the Upper Columbia River detected with combined analysis of capture, telemetry and genetics. Journal of Applied Ichthyology 28: 1–7

Clarke, A., S. McAdam and K. Telmer. 2011. Upper Columbia white sturgeon final analysis and data report: microchemical analysis of fin-rays to evaluate historical habitat use.  Unpubl. report for Canadian Columbia Intertribal Fisheries Commission, Cranbrook, B.C. 70 pp.

Drauch-Schrier, A., B. Mahardja and B. May. 2010. Investigation of white sturgeon population structure in the transboundary reach of the Columbia River using polysomic microsatellite markers. Report for the Spokane Tribe of Indians.  20 pp.

McAdam, S. O. 2012. Diagnosing white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) recruitment failure and the importance of substrate condition to yolksac larvae survival. Ph.D. Thesis. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.
Columbia - All locationsJuvenileInvestigation of food availability in relation to growth & fecundity.Dams have caused significant changes to the availability of food in this area (especially anadromous salmon and other sources reliant on salmon).  This could result in lower growth, survival or reproductive frequency. 17Ongoing.  Juvenile growth studies are ongoing.  Some relevant information presented in:

Van Poorten, B. T. and S. O. McAdam. 2010.  Estimating differences in growth and metabolism in two spatially segregated groups of Columbia River white sturgeon using a field based bioenergetics model.  Open Fish Sci. J. 3: 132-141.
Columbia - upstream of HLK DamJuvenile RearingRelease of hatchery fish, various ages, with follow-up sampling and telemetry to assess: i) approximate juvenile habitat requirements and suitability; and, ii) approximate impacts of operational variations on juvenile location, growth and survival.Survival rates for early life stages need to be assessed to determine if natural recruitment is possible in this area.  This research involves follow-up assessments of a series of hatchery release groups, or differing age, from yearlings to larvae.  Survivals of each release group should be able to provide an indication of limitations to natural growth and survival.17Several Water Licence Requirement monitoring studies are assessing juvenile survival and habitat use.  Results are available in:

B.C. Hydro. 2012. Columbia River White Sturgeon Management Plan Monitoring Program and Physical Works Annual Report: 2012. Prepared by B.C. Hydro, Castlegar B.C.
Lower FraserSpawningConduct dedicated spawning habitat field assessments to determine or re-confirm specific spawning habitats and the spawning window (spatial).Some Fraser mainstem and side channel spawning sites identified and timing confirmed through works conducted in 1999.  Additional works needed to confirm timing and full extent of habitat use including potential sub-populations.  Habitats undergo significant annual physical changes.  No recent work has been conducted.16Not completed.
Upper Fraser25d to 1yearFood requirements.No information exists on this life stage.16Not completed.
Columbia - downstream of HLK DamJuveniles - AdultsAssess energetic effects of the rivers thermal regime; winter temperature has increased, which may have energetic consequences for white sturgeon over winter energy use.Reservoir thermal inertia, exacerbated by climate change, is thought to have led to changes in the temperature regime downstream of HLK.  Early and late winter temperatures could be warm enough to result in higher metabolic demand during the period when food resources are limited. This could result in lower growth, survival or ultimately reproductive frequency.16Not completed.
KootenayJuvenile (1-2 years)Release of YOY hatchery fish to assess habitat use.Very little is known about critical habitat for juvenile white sturgeon in Kootenay River/Lake.16Ongoing.  Hatchery releases are ongoing and some individuals are released with PIT tags.  Studies of recruitment and habitat use are ongoing.
Upper Fraser1-2 yearsHabitat.No information exists on this life stage.15Not completed.
Nechako1-2 yearsHabitat.No information exists on this life stage.15Not completed.
NechakoRearing 2+Spatial Extent of habitat (Upstream Vanderhoof is priority).Limited information exists for this stage in Nechako River.15Not completed.  Annual juvenile monitoring studies continue to monitoring habitat use.
NechakoRearing 2+Food and habitat requirements.No information exists for this stage in Nechako River.15Not completed.
NechakoAdult Holding & FeedingKey feeding habitats.Little information exists for this stage in Nechako River.15Not completed.
Columbia - all locationsAdultsUndertake assessment of abundance to better understand survival and population trajectory, including, where feasible, assessment of sub-population status.This Columbia population (from REV Dam) downstream into Lake Roosevelt in the US) has not been assessed since the early 1990s.  A new assessment of stock status will help guide the timing of recovery actions and inform projections of the outcome of hatchery stocking.15Ongoing.  New estimates of adult abundance are underway (James Crossman, B.C. Hydro, personal communication).
Columbia - downstream of HLK DamAdultsAssess factors influencing the use of Kootenay Eddy, and the consequences of providing flows to protect depths.Kootenay Eddy is used fairly extensively by adult sturgeon but does not appear to be as consistently used as other eddies in this area.  Sturgeon may abandon use of the area when the depth decreases below 18 m.15Partially completed. Report in preparation
Columbia - all except KootenayAdultsAssess the impact and recovery implications from disruption of movement and related habitat fragmentation caused by HLK, Brilliant and Waneta dams.Sturgeon from the Columbia River historically accessed the lower Pend d'Oreille, Kootenay and Slocan, and upper Columbia rivers (as far as Kinbasket Lake).  Some of these areas were probably important for seasonal forage and some may have provided additional spawning and early life stage habitats.  Altered access to downstream habitats may also have been an issue for those fish residing between dams.  The extent of disruption in the system, and implications for recovery needs to be assessed. 15Not completed.
KootenayRearing 2+Kokanee impacts on growth, survival and reproduction.Reductions in kokanee populations may be limiting adult spawner frequency and increasing the age at maturity.15Not completed.
Mid FraserSpawningConduct field assessments to confirm the spawning window (temporal).Limited information exists on spawning habitat use and the influence of environmental cues within a natural river.14Partially completed. Ongoing radiotracking studies are providing information about spatial and temporal patterns of habitat use.
Mid FraserEarly life historyConduct field assessments to determine important larval rearing habitats. Greatest opportunity to affect recruitment, however, little apparent impact to recruitment.14Not completed.
Mid FraserAdult Holding & FeedingConduct field assessments to determine important habitats, and food requirements and preferences. Compare results of assessments with previous limited assessments.Limited information, but access to salmon available.14Not completed.
Columbia - downstream of HLK DamAdultsAssess effects of hatchery supplemented fish on food availability, habitat use, fecundity and growth.This work is required to assess appropriate levels of stocking for ongoing conservation aquaculture.  Stocking targets should be based on a combination of long-term adult population targets, and some measure of habitat capacity based on physical assessment, growth and survival.14Ongoing.  Hatchery releases are being monitored through WLR programs.  There is no indication of density dependence at this time (James Crossman, B.C. Hydro, personal communication).
NechakoOverwinteringHabitat Use.Not known whether habitat is limiting or is use limited due to low population size.14Not completed.
NechakoOverwinteringAttributes of habitat.One specific site seems to be preferred- not known why or if other sites exist.14Not completed.
Lower FraserSpawningConduct field assessments to confirm the spawning window (temporal).Limited information exists on spawning habitat use and the influence of environmental cues within a natural river.13Not completed.
Mid FraserSpawningConduct field assessments to confirm specific spawning habitats and the spawning window (spatial).No sites identified; medium due to link to habitat issues.13Not completed. Ongoing radiotracking work has identified possible spawning sites, but spawning has not been confirmed.
Mid FraserJuvenile RearingConduct field assessments to determine important juvenile rearing habitats. Compare results of assessments with previous assessments.Very limited information available; could infer from other studies.13Not completed.
Columbia - All locationsJuvenile RearingAssess kokanee impacts on growth, survival and reproduction.Kokanee are believed to provide an important annual food source during and immediately following the spawning period.  The nutrients provided by these fish may ultimately affect sturgeon reproductive cycles and population productivity.  A better understanding of the importance of kokanee and their role in the recovery process is required. This also relates to the issue of habitat fragmentation, where dams prevented access to kokanee resources for sturgeon in the recovery area.13Not completed.
Columbia - All locationsAdultsDetermine the extent of kokanee distribution in each tributary, and assess potential benefits to sturgeon.Kokanee are believed to provide an important annual food source during and immediately following the spawning period.  The nutrients provided by these fish ultimately affect sturgeon reproductive cycles and population productivity.  A better understanding of the importance of kokanee and their role in the recovery process is required. This also relates to the issue of habitat fragmentation, where dams prevented access to kokanee resources for sturgeon in the recovery area.13Not completed.
Lower Fraser25d to 1 yearConduct dedicated field assessments to determine important early juvenile rearing habitats for this life history stage.Very limited information available for this life history stage.  Habitat type use has not been confirmed.12Partially completed.  See:

Glova et al. 2009 [PDF 1.4 MB].
Lower FraserAdult Holding & FeedingConduct field assessments to determine important habitats, and food requirements and preferences. Compare results of assessments with previous limited assessments.Limited information, however, access to marine derived food is reasonably abundant.12Not completed.
Mid Fraser25d to 1yearConduct field assessments to determine important juvenile rearing habitats. Compare results of assessments with previous assessments.Limited information, but variable likely not limiting past 6 months of age.12Not completed.
Mid FraserRearing 2+Conduct field assessments to determine important juvenile rearing habitats. Compare results of assessments with previous assessments.Limited information, possible use of edge habitats creates potential anthropogenic impact12Not completed.
Mid FraserAdult Holding & FeedingConduct field assessments to determine important habitats, and food requirements and preferences. Compare results of assessments with previous limited assessments.Adult locations poorly understood, and would provide inference about juvenile habitat use.12Not completed. An ongoing radiotracking study is providing information about spatial and temporal patterns of habitat use.
Upper FraserRearing 2+Spatial and Temporal.No information exists for this stage in Upper Fraser River.12Not completed.
Upper FraserRearing 2+Food requirements.No information exists for this stage in Upper Fraser River.12Not completed.
Upper FraserRearing 2+Habitat.No information exists for this stage in Upper Fraser River.12Not completed.
Upper FraserAdult Holding & FeedingSpatial and Temporal.No information exists on this life stage.12Not completed.
Upper FraserAdult Holding & FeedingHabitat.No information exists on this life stage.12Not completed.
Upper FraserOverwinteringHabitat Use.No information exists on this life stage.12Not completed.
Upper FraserOverwinteringAttributes of habitat.No information exists on this life stage.12Not completed.
Upper FraserStagingMonitor pre-spawning movements.No information exists on this life stage.12Not completed.
Upper FraserStagingMonitor habitat use at putative staging locations.No information exists on this life stage.12Not completed.
Lower Fraser1-2 yearsConduct dedicated field assessments to determine or confirm important early juvenile rearing habitats for this life history stage. Compare results of assessments with previous assessments to determine change or effects.Limited information available. Previous comprehensive assessment conducted between 1985 and 1993, and recent less comprehensive study conducted in 2007 and 2008.  Habitat use confirmed similar to late juvenile and adult.11Not completed.
Lower FraserOverwinteringConduct field assessments to determine important habitats, and food requirements and preferences. Compare results of assessments with previous limited assessments.Adult locations reasonably well understood, not felt to limit population.11Not completed.
Lower FraserStagingMonitor habitat use at putative staging locations.Limited information, however, habitat and access not felt to be limiting.11Not completed.
Mid FraserIncubationConduct field assessments to determine important larval rearing habitats. Can be derived from spawning location.11Not completed.
Mid Fraser1-2 yearsConduct field assessments to determine important juvenile rearing habitats. Compare results of assessments with previous assessments.Limited information available, most important for 21 days to 1 year.11Not completed.
Mid FraserStagingConduct field assessments to determine important habitats, and food requirements and preferences. Compare results of assessments with previous limited assessments.Limited information, however, habitat and access not felt to be limiting.11Not completed.
Lower FraserSpawningConduct field assessments to confirm sub-population spawning habitats. (e.g. Pitt or Harrison) (spatial & temporal).  Conduct analysis of collected tissue samples from sub-populations to confirm genetic variability.Genetics has identified population structure in Columbia, and evidence in the Lower Fraser from genetics and movement, will influence monitoring and population estimates.10Not completed.   Ongoing studies of fin ray chemistry may provide useful insight.
Lower FraserRearing 2+Conduct field assessments to determine important juvenile rearing habitats. Compare results of assessments with previous assessments.Limited information, possible use of edge habitats creates potential anthropogenic impact.10Not completed.