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ESR 54:59-81 (2024)  -  DOI:

Occupancy, movement, and behaviour of namew (lake sturgeon Acipenser fulvescens) in an intact river in Canada

Claire E. Farrell1,*, Jennifer Simard2, Stan Louttit2, F. Meg Southee1, Liset Cruz-Font1,3, Daniel P. Struthers1,4, Jacob L. Seguin1,5, Constance M. O’Connor1

1Wildlife Conservation Society Canada, 10 Cumberland Street North, Thunder Bay, ON P7A 4K9, Canada
2Moose Cree First Nation Resource Protection, 22 Jonathan Cheechoo Drive, PO Box 190, Moose Factory, ON P0L 1W0, Canada
3Present address: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, 2140 East Bank Drive, Peterborough, ON K9L 0G2, Canada
4Present address: Parks Canada, 224 Banff Avenue, Banff, AB T1L 1A1, Canada
5Present address: McGill University, 21111 Lakeshore Td, Saint-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC K9X 3V9, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Most sturgeon populations are imperilled and living in fragmented rivers. Here, we studied namew (lake sturgeon Acipenser fulvescens), fish important to Ililiwak (Moose Cree Peoples), in the North French River: a free-flowing, intact river in Kit Aski Nahnuun (the Moose Cree Homeland) in northern Ontario, Canada. This study was co-created alongside members of Moose Cree First Nation and used acoustic telemetry to passively track 20 tagged namew over 6 yr (2016-2022). Namew occupied the entire monitored river reach: about 45 km. Namew used 2 overwintering areas and occupied more overall river sections during spring and summer (out of 6 total seasons often used by Ililiwak). We did not detect namew moving upstream or downstream during freeze-up and winter. Generally, namew showed the greatest acceleration and travelled the longest distances during spring and summer, and they occupied shallower water during summer at lower water levels and deepest waters during freeze-up. We found an interaction between season and diurnal period, where namew occupied shallower depths and had higher acceleration at dawn and night relative to morning and afternoon in most seasons; dusk behaviour was variable among seasons. However, this pattern was absent in spring, when namew showed no diurnal pattern in acceleration and were in shallower water during morning and afternoon. Diurnal patterns were less pronounced, but detectable, during ice-affected seasons. This river provides year-round habitat for namew, and our data reveal distinct patterns of namew occupancy, movement, and behaviour in a free-flowing, intact river. Our work is an example of successfully co-creating research that addresses both scientific and community priorities.

KEY WORDS: Research co-creation · Indigenous · First Nations · Lake sturgeon · Acipenseridae · Intact rivers · Acoustic telemetry · Fish movement · Fish behaviour

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Cite this article as: Farrell CE, Simard J, Louttit S, Southee FM and others (2024) Occupancy, movement, and behaviour of namew (lake sturgeon Acipenser fulvescens) in an intact river in Canada. Endang Species Res 54:59-81.

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