Imagery

Fishing for silversides … in Chile!

A two-week stint to south-central Chile ends with a successful proof-of-concept that planned research on a Chilean silverside species will be highly feasible, opening avenues for a budding US-Chilean collaboration.

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Fishing boats in Caleta Tumbes near Concepcion, Chile

Concepcion (Chile), 12 October 2022. Two incredible weeks of adventure and scientific exploration for new and potentially groundbreaking science are coming to a close. In preparation for next year’s sabbatical, Hannes has met and made friends with colleagues at the Universidad the Concepción in southern Chile, travelled some 2,000 miles along the stunning Chilean coast, scoured local fish markets and accompanied artisanal fishermen on their nightly pursuits. The goal: finding a small fish that looks all too familiar – a silverside!

The Chilean silverside (Odontesthes regia), locally known as ‘pejerrey’, looks eerily similar to the Atlantic silverside (Menidia menidia), the model that has already inspired decades of eco-evolutionary research across many labs including ours. And like its northern hemisphere cousin, Chilean silversides occur over an astounding geographical range along the South American Pacific coast, all the way from Puerto Montt (42°S) to southern Peru (10°S)! There, average coastal temperatures change predictably with latitude and therefore provide a natural climate gradient in space that could serve as an analogue to climate change in time. Whether and how Chilean silversides show similar local adaptations to their latitudinal gradient is a big question – and next year’s sabbatical will start to provide some important answers.

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Pejerrey are usually caught with gillnets as here in the picture

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A Chilean silverside embryo of a few days post fertilization. Eyes beginning to pigment and a prominent yolk artery provides nutrients for growth

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A Chilean silverside embryo close to hatch

To prepare, Hannes spent two weeks in September and October 2022 in Chile. Hosted by the ever-enthusiastic Prof. Mauricio Urbina from the zoology department and thanks to a visiting grant from the university, we were ready to start exploring. Our specific goal for this trip was to find spawning-ripe pejerrey in two of the planned four locations along the coast.

The luck was on our side and the timing of the visit turned out to be perfect. On a nightly fishing trip with the artisanal fisherman Juan Figueroa from the small village of Tumbes near Concepción, we caught running ripe males and females, observed naturally deposited egg masses in nearshore waters, and were able to subsequently document the temperature-dependent development of newly fertilized embryos.

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Left: During spawning season, pejerrey deposit enormous masses of eggs on vegetation in shallow water. Right: The Marine Station of the Universidad de Concepcion in Dichato

On an epic road-trip up the coast all the way to Coquimbo, Hannes and graduate student Rocio Barrios stopped at many villages and local fish markets, gathering information and finally securing precious samples of spawning-ripe pejerrey from a fisherman at the Coquimbo fish market. Transporting the embryos was a success, too, thereby paving the way for the proposed research plan next year.

The real, big common garden experiments will take place from September – December 2023 at the Dichato Marine Station near Concepción, a small but recently renovated station with excellent facilities for our purposes.

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On the road during our trip to Coquimbo

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Beautiful spring at the scenic Coliumo Bay near Concepcion

While at the University, Hannes also gave a seminar talk to the students and faculty explaining his excitement and plans for coming to Chile, which received great interest, curiosity, and students expressing interest to play a part in this.

    Baumann, H. 2022. Principles of local adaptation across environmental gradients (or: why I’m so darn interested in studying Chilean silversides). Invited seminar talk. University de Concepción, 29 Sep 2022

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A gillnet used to fish for Chilean silversides on the beach of Tumbes near Concepcion

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A newly hatched Chilean silverside measuring already an astounding 9 mm TL


NCMA2022 experiment update: Phenotyping 1,147 fish

Groton, 24 July 2022. A remarkable week ends with a sense of pride, accomplishment and a good dose of exhaustion. After more than two months of rearing, the silversides from our crosses in May have grown big, and at least for the warm, 26C treatment, they reached their final, intended size (~40 mm). Our rearing job came to a successful end, and now post-doctoral researcher Jessica Rick and PhD-student Maria Akopyan came back to the Rankin Lab equipped with hundreds of tubes and lots of RNAlater to finalize the sampling. This involved measuring the critical sustained swim speed of every individual fish, followed by meticulous measurements, photographs, and eventually an individual tube for preservation in RNAlater. Over the course of 9 days (and over 10h of work each day), the team measured 1,147 fish, which ranged in size between 15 and 50 mm. A big hat tip to the hard-working geneticists!

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On 16 July 2022, Maria (left) and Jessi (right) are working meticulously through their individual sampling protocol of silversides reared for two months at 26C. Every rearing container contains about 40 fish.

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On 21 July 2022, most of the rearing containers have been sampled and only 5 remain.

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Maria is tackling individual length and weight measurments, photographing, labeling and preserving of silversides.

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The old swim flume that has seen its fair share of experimental work, is being put to good use once again.

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To calibrate the dial of the swim flume to flow speeds, we use dye and video recording.


Now, our rearing job still continues until the crosses in the 20C treatment reach their final size, when the second session of phenotyping will need to happen. And of course, there iare so many more steps to follow. Stay tuned.

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On 16 July 2022, Maria looks concentrated while taking a picture of a reared silverside.

World Ocean’s Day at 3rd grade Groton Elementary School

7 June 2022. This is World Ocean Week and many Marine Science students and faculty do their bit to increase outreach to our community. Hannes had the privilege of dropping by the 3rd graders of the Catherine Kolnaski Magnet School, talking about what Marine Scientists do, which ocean critters eat another and "What was the weirdest fish you ever caught?" Oh, and "Are you really sure that the Megalodon [Charchardon megalodon] is no longer alive?" Thank you to Mr. Moon, Mrs. Laudone for the opportunity to come visit the school!

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NCMA2022 experiment update: first genetic material sampled

18 June 2022. We are happy to report that our genomic silverside experiment has progressed from "Can we really pull this off?" to "We think we just might" over the past weeks. The silverside larvae of these different crosses show stunning size variability, between populations and temperatures. We already obtained two early life mortality estimates and lots of genetic material, including a full set of crosses reared at 26C and ad libitum food, reaching 20 mm in roughly 4 weeks post hatch. Fingers crossed for the rest of the rearing time.

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9 dph larvae from the North Carolina Batch fertilization, waiting to be counted on 9 June 2022

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Visually stunning comparison of 9 dph silverside larvae reared at 20C from North Carolina batches vs. Massachusetts batches

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Digital length measurements of a small subsample of silverside larvae from the 26C treatment (crosses unknown)

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Silverside juveniles subsampled on 16JUN 2022 from bucket 3 of tank D (D#), housing the Massachusetts Batch (B4 of 7) in the 26C treatment, counted via ImageJ, preserved in RNAlater

John and Hannes travel to Bermuda to install a new CO2 system

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The Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) with its flagship the R/V 'Atlantic Explorer' in May 2022

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John Hamilton (right) and Hannes Baumann (left), the UConn team for the BIOS CO2 project

29 May 2022. When in a few months researchers and students at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science (BIOS) begin using their new outdoor mesocosm facility, they can now manipulate and control the CO2 levels in as many of 9 flow-through basins. The important new capacity of the system will allow realistic ocean warming and acidification experiments and has been the product of a wonderful collaboration between BIOS researcher Dr. Yvonne Sawall and our UConn Marine Sciences team consisting of John Hamilton and Hannes Baumann.

The newly developed system shares some of the design ideas with ALFiRiS, the factorial rearing system we developed and used over the past years at UConn's Rankin Seawater Lab. For example, we again developed and installed a central pH measurement hub that sequentially collects water samples via pumps from each of 12 independent basins, which is advantageous, because it only relies on a single, high-end pH sensor, therefore making measurements always comparable. Similarly, we are using LabView software (National Instruments) to switch pumps on and off and log, display, and graph the pH conditions in real time for researchers to have confidence in their chosen environmental parameters.

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A view over Mullet Bay from Slip Point Lane in St.George/Bermuda

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A downward view of BIOS' outdoor mesocosm facility, still in the middle of the major refurbishment

While most of the planning and design work was done remotely via frequent online meetings, Hannes and John worked with Yvonne during the past week at the BIOS station on installing and testing the systems major components. Working mostly out in the open under a warm and clear Bermudan sky was a particular treat of this assignment. Big shout-out, too, to facilities manager Kevin Hollis for his tireless onsite help!

Despite setbacks in form of supply chain delays and an unfortunate last moment COVID infection preventing team member Lucas Jones from traveling to Bermuda, soon the new outdoor mesocosm facility at BIOS will become operational and allow new and advanced kinds of experimental research on global change biology.


Staying at the Mary and James Buttler suite at BIOS was a particular treat

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The electronic box designed & assembled by John controls the sampling pumps

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On May 24th, John is explaining the workings of the software to Yvonne and Roderick

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On May 26, Yvonne measures pH in a mock-up of the CO2 header tanks for the mesocosm facility

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On May 28, our work is done and we enjoy the evening on the dock of Yvonne's place in St.George

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'Winky' is the queen of BIOS

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The R/V Atlantic Explorer is the flagship of BIOS and the main operation platform for the BATS time series

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John takes a picture of a Royal Poinciana (Delonix regia, Fabacea, Caesalpinioideae), a particularly stunning tree at the BIOS and all over Bermuda

Another crazy road trip for genetic silverside research

15 May 2022. A full, blood red moon rises over Pine Island this Sunday evening. The sight makes not just humans swoon – its pull extents underwater to all kinds of critters that take it as cue for reproduction. Critters just like the Atlantic Silverside, which once again we pursue this season to extract more of its genomic 'secrets'.

Specifically, it is this weekend that we embark on yet another ambitious road trip to find and sample spawning-ripe silversides from two very far apart places: Morehead City, North Carolina and Beverly, Massachusetts. The goal: transport spawners live from each population to UConn's Rankin Seawater lab and produce calculated crosses that will allow studying the role of genomic inversions in local adaptation.

The crew this time are Maria Akopyan and Jessica Rick from Cornell University, along with Lucas Jones and Hannes Baumann from UConn. Big shout-out to Tara Duffy for her help with beach seining at Beverly, MA. During the spawning event on May 15th, Nina Therkildsen also joined the efforts. The design and experiment are part of Jessi's successful NSF post-doctoral fellowship proposal, which the whole UConn-Cornell silverside team supports.

Click through the pictures below to retrace the steps of an exhausting but so far successful effort. Fingers crossed that all goes well during the next weeks, when the fish need to hatch, survive and grow, so they can be assessed for their traits.

Map-trip
The US east coast map illustrates our ambitious sampling plan.

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On 12th May, fog envelopes the Chesapeake Bridge on our drive south to Morehead City, NC.

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Maria, Hannes, Lucas, and Jessi getting ready to beach seine the Morehead City site

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Our 100ft beach seine is being laid out on the Morehead City site.

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On May 13th, Atlantic silversides caught in Morehead City swim in a bucket.

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Lucas checking whether the fish are properly prepared for transport.

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Ripe adult silversides are being transported in large coolers, with proper aeration and water changes underway.

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Maria driving through the night. The long trip back up north is especially taxing.

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On May 14th, Jessi and Tara pull our seine net up the beach on Obear Park, Beverly, MA.

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Maria bringing a new sampling bucket to Jessi and Tara (background) seining.

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Seining at low tide in Obear Park is made more difficult by ankle deep mud.

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On May 15th, at UConn's Rankin Seawater lab, Nina and Jessi strategize about designing crosses.

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On May 15th, Hannes, Jessi, and Nina spawn individual silversides.

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Jessi squeezing a silverside female for eggs in UConn's Rankin Lab.

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A 24 hours old silverside embryo developing at 26C.

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On May 15th, Jessi lays out individual crosses to be reared in the circle tanks in UConn's Rankin Lab.

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Nina and Maria extract DNA from male and female spawners to determine a specific regions homo- vs. heterozygosity.

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Screens with attached embryos are being suspended in buckets for development under two different temperatures.

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A specific capture probe (TARMS gel) allows the quick determination whether adult spawners were homo- or heterozygous for specific inversions on chromosomes 11, 18, or 24

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A silverside larva 6 days post hatch produced from NC spawners. The stomach is full of brine shrimp nauplii, pigmentation just started.

Unveiling a new sturgeon outreach sign at Hammonassett State Park

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On May 7th, project members, CTDEEP, and CT SeaGrant representatives unveil the new outreach sign about Atlantic sturgeon at Hammonassett State Park (f.l.t.r. Mason Trumble, CTDEEP deputy commissioner; Tom Savoy, CTDEEP scientist; Kelli Mosca, CTDEEP; Joe Cunningham, CTDEEP; Hannes Baumann, UConn; Sylvain Deguise, CT SeaGrant Director; Jacque Benway, CTDEEP

May 7th, 2022. Despite the chilly, rainy weather on Hammonassett Park's Meigs Point and the resultant lack of a beach crowd, the mood among the group was elated and proud. For over two years, our lab together with researchers from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CTDEEP, Tom Savoy, Jacque Benway) have worked tirelessly to better understand the growth and seasonal movement patterns of Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhynchus) in Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River. The research project was funded by Connecticut SeaGrant (NOAA Award NA18OAR4170081, Project R/LR-29).

Kelli Mosca did her M.S. thesis research using fin spine sections for growth analyses and telemetry data for movement patterns. After defending in March 2022, she immediately accepted an offer by CTDEEP to become a full time staff scientist. Congrats again, Kelli!

The sign was designed by Joe Cunningham with pictures from Jacob Snyder (RedSkiesPhotography.com). It combines several outreach goals. 1) Convey to people that these ancient, iconic fish actually occur in our waters, 2) teach the interested readers that sturgeon spawn in freshwater and then grow up in saltwater, 3) give readers a sense of the ongoing research on Atlantic sturgeon, 4) tell the public that sturgeon may come back to Long Island Sound and River, but need protection. Particularly, they rely on any accidental catches to be released and reported. The sign is also available in Spanish language to broaden its reach.

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The sturgeon outreach sign at Hammonassett State Park

MEPS just published our most recent paper on sand lance CO2-sensitivity!

A potential ripple effect from carbon in the atmosphere could have severe impacts throughout the ocean ecosystem

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This photo shows sand lance embryos that have and have not hatched. Sand lance have trouble hatching at future ocean CO2 levels (photo courtesy of Emma Cross).


By Elaina Hancock. Reposted from UConn Today, 7 April 2022

When carbon is emitted into the atmosphere, about a quarter of it is absorbed by the earth’s oceans. As the oceans serve as a massive ‘sink’ for carbon, there are changes to the water’s pH – a measure of how acidic or basic water is. As oceans absorb carbon, their water becomes more acidic, a process called ocean acidification (OA). For years, researchers have worked to understand what effect this could have on marine life.

While most research so far shows that fish are fairly resilient to OA, new research from UConn, the University of Washington, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Southern Connecticut State University, shows that an important forage fish for the Northwest Atlantic called sand lance is very sensitive to OA, and that this could have considerable ecosystem impacts by 2100. The team’s findings have just been published in Marine Ecology Progress Series 687.

Sand lance spawn in the winter months in offshore environments that tend to have stable, low levels of CO2, explains UConn Department of Marine Sciences researcher and lead author Hannes Baumann.

“Marine organisms are not living in a uniform ocean,” Baumann says. “In near shore environments, large CO2 fluctuations between day and night and between seasons are the norm, and the fish and other organisms are adapted to this variability. When we stumbled upon sand lances we suspected they are different. We thought that a fish that lives in a more open-ocean offshore environment might be more sensitive than the near-shore fish because there’s just much less variability.”

The project was a collaboration with physical oceanographers, including Assistant Professor of Marine Sciences Samantha Siedlecki and Michael Alexander from NOAA’s Physical Sciences Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, who modeled CO2 levels in 2050 and 2100 for a specific part of the Gulf of Maine where sand lance spawn. Then Baumann and his team reared sand lance embryos in the lab under experimentally higher CO2 levels matching the projected levels.

There are instances of direct fish mortality as result of elevated CO2, but they are rare, says Baumann. However, sand lance embryos proved to be exceptionally sensitive, and fewer embryos hatched under future oceanic CO2 conditions. The researchers repeated the experiments three more times to avoid jumping to conclusions but each time they observed the same result.

“We found that embryo survival-to-hatch decreased sharply with increasing CO2 levels in the water, concluding that this is one of the most CO2-sensitive fish species studied thus far,” Baumann says.

Sand lances are surely one of the most important forage fish here on the Northwest Atlantic shelf… The humpback whales, sharks, tuna, cod, shearwaters, terns — you name it — they are all relying on sand lance.

With this interdisciplinary approach combining model forecasts and serial experimentation the researchers arrived at a picture that is much more specific.

“We consequently applied principles of serial experimentation, which is a most timely and important topic in ocean acidification research right now,” Baumann says. “Because our findings are backed up by repeated independent evidence, they are more robust than many published ocean acidification studies to date.”

In addition to preventing many sand lance embryos from developing normally, the researchers document a second negative, and novel, response to elevated CO2. Higher CO2 levels appear to make it harder for embryos to hatch.

Baumann explains the lowered pH likely renders enzymes needed for successful hatching less effective, leaving the embryos unable to break through their eggshell (chorion) to hatch.

The results show that by 2100, due to acidification, sand lance hatching success could be reduced to 71% of today’s levels. Since sand lance are such a critical component of the food web of the Northwest Atlantic, this marked decrease in sand lance would have profound impacts throughout the ecosystem.

“Sand lances are surely one of the most important forage fish here on the Northwest Atlantic shelf,” Baumann says. “Their range spans from the Mid Atlantic Bight all the way to Greenland. Where we studied them, on Stellwagen Bank, they are called the backbone of the ecosystem. The humpback whales, sharks, tuna, cod, shearwaters, terns — you name it — they are all relying on sand lance, and if sand lance productivity goes down, we will see ripple effects to all these higher trophic animals. Even though we humans don’t fish for sand lance, we need to take care of the species because it has such a huge effect on everything else.”

Baumann says this study supports the hypothesis that offshore, high latitude marine organisms like the sand lance may be among the most vulnerable to OA. As a result, these organisms and food webs will likely be impacted first and soon, and we must act now.

Previous research has focused on opportunistically chosen species when testing their sensitivity for ocean acidification, says Baumann, but this should change.

“We need strategic thinking about what species we are testing next, because we cannot test every marine fish species, that’s an impossible task. We should concentrate on fish species that are likely the most vulnerable, and therefore the ones that are probably being affected first and this research makes a compelling argument that those are the fish species at higher latitudes and in more offshore than nearshore environments.”


Kelli Mosca presents Master thesis research on Atlantic Sturgeon

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21 March 2022. Today, Baumann lab graduate student Kelli Mosca presented her Masters thesis entitled "Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus) Growth and Habitat Use in the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound". She did a marvelous job summarizing the multifaceted findings on age and growth of Atlantic sturgeon in the eastern Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River, their movement patterns based on analyses of acoustic telemetry data, while evaluating the evidence for indications that Atlantic sturgeon may utilize the Connecticut River again for spawning.

Kelli was an inspirational and cherished member of the Baumann lab, who literally mastered the challenges of being a 'whole-pandemic' Master student. Her dedication and continued work for CTDEEP were awarded by an offer for a CTDEEP Fishery Biologist I position, which she has wholeheartedly accepted. Congratulations Kelli, and all the best for the next steps in your career!

The UConn Department of Marine Sciences
Presents a Master’s Thesis Presentation by

Kelli Mosca
B.S., University of New Haven, 2017

12:00 p.m., Monday, March 21, 2022
Lowell Weicker Building, Seminar Room 103 or Via WebEx

Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus) Growth and Habitat Use in the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound

Atlantic sturgeon (ATS, Acipenser oxyrinchus) are long-lived, anadromous, and endangered fish with a wide geographical distribution along the east coast of North America. Historically known to spawn in numerous rivers, many spawning runs ended due to intense fishing pressure and habitat obstruction in the 19th and 20th centuries. This was thought to be true for the longest river in the US Northeast, the Connecticut River, until pre-migratory ATS juveniles appeared in the river in 2014. Here, I use a long-term archive of fin spine samples and three years of acoustically tagged ATS to generally expand knowledge about the ATS using the CT River and LIS, and specifically examine these empirical data for potential evidence of re-emergent spawning behavior. I analyzed 301 sections of ATS fins spines collected from 1988-2021 to determine age, annuli widths, and thus population- and individual-based growth patterns. I found that the vast majority of ATS in my study area were juveniles and sub-adults with an average (± SD) age of 7.5 ± 3.1 years and an average (± SD) length of 101 ± 26 cm. The weighed, population-based Von Bertalanffy growth model estimated a K of 0.08 (95% CL, 0.01/0.17) and a L∞ of 171.2 cm (95% CI, 129/547 cm), the latter likely showing signs of missing large adults. K and L∞ distributions showed no sign of sex-specific multi-modality. Longitudinal length back-calculations revealed the selective disappearance of faster growing phenotypes (at ages 2-6) with increasing age at capture, which is clear evidence for Lee’s phenomenon. Acoustic detections of telemetered Atlantic sturgeon (2019-2021) revealed that most sturgeon in 2019 and 2020 utilized the Lower CT River (brackish water), whereas in 2021 detections were highest in LIS (salt water). Detections in the Upper CT River (freshwater) were common but much less dense across years, with 53%, 69% and 45% of ATS detected in the Upper CT River at some point in each season (2019-2021 respectively). I found a positive relationship of fish proportion in the CT River with temperature, but an inverse relationship of fish proportion in the CT River with river discharge. On average, the arrival of fish in the CT River occurred in June, when water temperatures were 17.5 - 24.9 ºC, while the departure from the CT River generally occurred in October, coinciding with river temperatures of 15.2 - 20.4 ºC. Some of the fish utilizing the Upper CT River made directed movements to a potential spawning ground at Portland, CT (river km 47). However, these movements occurred in mid- to late August (12th -23rd), which is inconsistent with the typical spring timing of ATS spawning runs in northern populations. Fall spawning runs are only known for southern ATS populations. In addition to timing, ATS sizes in the Upper CT River also do not support spawning behavior, because fish of all sizes (72 – 154 cm TL) and ages (3-15) visited the Portland area for 0.25 – 63.25 days. I conclude that neither age nor telemetry data support the re-emergence of the CT River as an ATS spawning ground. Future work will benefit from a more even sampling of gear sizes and should examine possible explanations for ATS freshwater utilization including feeding and individual preferences.

Major Advisor: Hannes Baumann
Associate Advisor: Eric Schultz
Associate Advisor: Tom Savoy
Associate Advisor: Jacque Benway
Associate Advisor: Catherine Matassa

Hannes contributes textbook chapter on Fish Ecology

3rd March 2022. DMS faculty Hannes Baumann contributed a chapter to the new textbook Marine Biology: a functional approach to the oceans & their organisms (Taylor & Francis), which has just been published. The chapter is based on Baumann's long-running class "Ecology of Fishes" (MARN4018/5018), touching on a large variety topics including fish evolution, zoogeography, metabolism, growth, reproduction & basic concepts of fisheries science. The book is geared towards advanced undergraduate and graduate students, stimulating interest while encouraging readers to seek out further in-depth sources.



"With about 28,000 known species, fishes make up more than half of all known vertebrates (Helfman et al. 2009). Over the course of their long evolutionary history they radiated in every conceivable aquatic habitat, from the open ocean and deep-sea trenches to shelf seas, estuaries and lakes, to rivers and the smallest streams and ponds. They are found in subzero Antarctic waters, altitudes of over 4,000 m and even acidic desert springs of > 40°C (Moyle and Cech 2004). The fascinating adaptations to these habitats have produced a mind-bending diversity of form and function, a difference in size that spans more than three magnitudes (0.01 – 18 m), and a profusion of reproductive strategies. Apart from their diversity and unique evolutionary history, fishes are of intense scientific interest for economic reasons, because they comprise the nutritional foundation for a large part of humanity (Costanza et al. 1997) and their exploitation over time has led to thriving – and warring – civilizations. Today, the impetus of sustainable fish management at a time of rapid ecological re-organization due to man-made climate change has made the study of fish ecology and fish stock productivity as urgent and important as ever."


Fig01--systematics
Fig.1: Origin, evolution, and systematics of fishes. A – Origin hypothesis. Early during chordate evolution, sessile arm feeders (pterobranchs) gave rise to gill feeders. In one line, free-swimming filter-feeding larvae lost their sessile stage and evolved into the first, gill-feeding vertebrates (redrawn after Romer and Parsons 1977). B – Evolution and relative abundance of major fish lines through time. Most of today’s fish groups originated in the Devonian; ray-finned fishes became the dominant fish group during the Meso- and Cenozoic (numbers refer to million year ago, Mya). C – Abridged overview of Actinopterygii systematics showing select major orders (-formes) and Perciform families (-idae) sorted top to bottom from ancestral to most derived groups. Most fishes are Teleosts, and within those, most belong to the Euteleosts. Acanthopterygii evolved fin spines; the most species-rich vertebrate order are the Perciformes (after Moyle and Cech 2004).