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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 6:251-257 (2009)  -  DOI:

Artificial reproduction and larval rearing of captive endangered Atlantic sturgeon Acipenser sturio

Patrick Williot1,2,*, Thierry Rouault1, Marcel Pelard1, Daniel Mercier1, Louis Jacobs1

1Cemagref, Research Unit Estuarine Ecosystems and Diadromous Fish, 50 avenue de Verdun, 33612, Cestas Cedex, France
2Present address: 4 rue du Pas de Madame, 33980, Audenge, France

ABSTRACT: In the early 1990s a functional ex situ brood stock of the European Atlantic sturgeon Acipenser sturio was initiated in France as the only means of saving the species from extinction. In late spring 2007, partial and complete oogenesis and complete spermatogenesis were recorded in fish which were born in the wild in 1994 and entered the hatchery in 1995. Here, we report on the 2007 artificial reproduction attempts, which represent a breakthrough in terms of conservation of A. sturio, and possibly some other sturgeon species. From their arrival in the hatchery, fish were held in brackish water (~15‰). Pre-selected mature fish were transferred to fresh water for 5 wk prior to reproduction attempts. Morpho-physiological observations on testes and ovarian follicles (ovf) determined which fish were the ripest prior to hormonal injection. Three females were tested for in vitro maturation competence (IVMC) by recording the germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD) in ovf. One of the fish that entered the hatchery in 1995 ovulated; the ovaries were fully developed and exhibited a decisive IVMC (90% GVBD with added hormone and 0% GVBD in control). Two of the 5 hormonally stimulated males provided semen, both of which yielded similar embryological development results. Fertilization rates were 70–80%, declining to 38–39% of survival at the onset of hatching. Eleven thousand larvae were obtained; these exhibited first feeding at 10 to 11 d post hatch at 18.4°C. Although preliminary, these findings show promise for captive breeding of European Atlantic sturgeon.

KEY WORDS: Acipenser sturio · Captive specimen · Maturation of ovarian follicles · Artificial reproduction · Embryogenesis · Hatching

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Cite this article as: Williot P, Rouault T, Pelard M, Mercier D, Jacobs L (2009) Artificial reproduction and larval rearing of captive endangered Atlantic sturgeon Acipenser sturio. Endang Species Res 6:251-257.

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