RESEARCH ARTICLE


Bioenergetic Approach to Describing Gulf Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus) Growth in Two Florida Rivers



H. Jared Flowers*, 1, , Brett T. van Poorten2, Jakob C. Tetzlaff1, William E. Pine III1
1 Program of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville. FL, 32653, USA
2 Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z4, Vancouver
Present Address: North Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Biology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, 27695-7617, USA


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© 2010 Flowers et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode). This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the North Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Biology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, 27695-7617, USA; Tel: 919-515-2631; Fax: 919-515-4454; E-mail: hjflower@ncsu.edu


Abstract

Bioenergetics models are commonly used by scientist and managers to describe energy uptake and metabolism of fish species. Much data is needed to inform these models and often species specific data is unavailable or difficult to acquire, such as in the case with Gulf of Mexico sturgeon. This study applied a new method, developed by Walters and Essington (this issue), to estimate bioenergetics parameters using field observations for Gulf sturgeon populations in the Apalachicola and Suwannee Rivers, Florida, U.S.A. Bioenergetics derived growth curves were compared to growth curves developed using traditional direct aging methods. We obtained bioenergetic parameter estimates for both populations and the bioenergetic method was able to accurately simulate annual variability in Gulf sturgeon growth rates. Further, the bioenergetics growth estimates, which incorporate length-at-age and length-increment data estimated very different growth trajectories than traditional von Bertalanffy curves that used only length-at-age. This indicates that length-atage data alone can lead to errors in growth estimates, resulting in erroneous management advice. Using field data to inform bioenergetic models should be a useful approach for fisheries researchers and managers to describe the growth and energetic characteristics of fish populations.

Keywords: Bioenergetic models, sturgeon, growth curves.