Insight into Danube sturgeon life history: trace element assessment in pectoral fin rays


Sturgeon populations in the Danube River have experienced severe decline during the last several decades, mostly due to the poorly regulated fishery, river fragmentation and water pollution. This study focuses on gaining better understanding of sturgeon life history primarily by addressing the assessment of microelement accumulation in sturgeon pectoral fin rays, especially of strontium and calcium, as a method that can reveal migration patterns of anadromous sturgeons. Analysis was performed on pectoral fin samples of three anadromous Danube sturgeon species (beluga, Russian sturgeon and stellate sturgeon) by the use of a Nuclear Microprobe technique. The most frequent pattern in analyzed samples was represented by a low Sr:Ca ratio in the innermost annuli, followed by an increased ratio in the middle annuli segment, and often with a decreased ratio in the outermost annuli. Probability density estimate has revealed three distinguished maxima of the Sr:Ca ratio, 7.08 × 10−3, 8.98 × 10−3 and 9.90 × 10−3, which might correspond, respectively, to fresh, brackish and saltwater. Although the analysis of the Sr:Ca ratio in sturgeon pectoral fin rays has revealed changes that might indicate probable migration between habitats with different water salinity, further studies are needed for improvement of this method. This study represents the first analysis of this kind that was conducted on sturgeon species from the Black Sea basin.

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This study represents a part of activities within the Project No. 143045, funded by Ministry of Science of Republic Serbia, as well as within the Master Programme in Management of Biological Diversity, organized by the Swedish Biodiversity Centre (CBM) and funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The authors would like to thank the Editor and two anonymous referees for providing helpful comments and suggestions.

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Correspondence to Ivan Jarić.

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Jarić, I., Lenhardt, M., Pallon, J. et al. Insight into Danube sturgeon life history: trace element assessment in pectoral fin rays. Environ Biol Fish 90, 171–181 (2011).

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  • Acipenser
  • Huso
  • Migration patterns
  • Pectoral fin microchemistry
  • Sr:Ca ratio
  • Nuclear microprobe