GRPM announces breakthrough in Grand River sturgeon research

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Researchers said they captured and released a juvenile Grand River lake sturgeon, indicating successful natural reproduction for the first time.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Researchers from the Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) and partner organizations have announced a “major breakthrough” in their research into Grand River sturgeon reproduction.

On Tuesday, researchers said they captured and released a juvenile lake sturgeon from the Grand River, indicating successful natural reproduction of the fish for the first time in this habitat.

“Documenting a juvenile lake sturgeon here in the Grand River is a major breakthrough in our research,” said Dr. Stephanie Ogren, GRPM Vice President of Science and Education. “It is a rewarding experience to collaborate and share this experience with local partners while working on research projects that will help us better understand the dynamics of the Grand River. The Grand River is such an important resource and focal point in Grand Rapids, and our goal is to conserve and share its impact with the community.

This four-year research project is led by GRPM in partnership with Encompass Socio-Ecological Consulting, John Ball Zoo and Grand Valley State University.

The sturgeon that was caught and released was about six inches long and about four months old.

“Unlike other sturgeon populations in the Lake Michigan basin, we know very little about the Grand River population,” said Dr. Marty Holtgren of Encompass Socio-Economical Consulting. “This dedicated partnership, along with the search for a young sturgeon, represents a first step in our learning of what needs to be done to protect and enhance this species for generations to come.”

Lake sturgeon populations had been declining in the Great Lakes, inland lakes, and rivers for decades, and in the late 1990s a concerted effort began to boost these populations.

The partnership between GRPM, Encompass Socio-Ecological Consulting, John Ball Zoo, and Grand Valley State University is focused on researching and documenting successful breeding and recruitment to the Grand River population.

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