Remediation of Atlantic Sturgeon Acipenser oxyrinchus in the Oder River: Background and First Results

  • Jörn Gessner
  • Gerd-Michael Arndt
  • Frank Fredrich
  • Arne Ludwig
  • Frank Kirschbaum
  • Ryszard Bartel
  • Henning von Nordheim


At the end of the nineteenth century, sturgeon populations in the southern Baltic Sea drainages started to decrease dramatically. The last captures were reported from Lake Ladoga in 1984 and off Estonia in 1996. Today, sturgeons are considered extinct or missing in the Baltic. In 1996, the pilot phase of a federally funded remediation program was initiated. In parallel, population genetic analyses of historic samples of the species were carried out at the IGB, revealing the succession of two different species in the Baltic Sea drainage area. As a result, broodstock development is being carried out using Canadian populations of A. oxyrinchus. The evaluation of habitat status for early life stages has been performed in the River Oder. Alternative fisheries techniques, based on by-catch data of exotic sturgeons, have been developed to increase juvenile survival upon release. Since 2006, experimental releases of juvenile A. oxyrinchus have been carried out annually to determine habitat use, migration patterns and risks for population development.



The authors thank the Federal Agency of Nature Conservation (BfN) and the Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Protection and Nuclear Safety (BMU) for their continuous and substantial support and funding of this program. J.G. was employed from 1996 to 2009 through grants Nr. Az.: Z1.2-892 11-4/96, -7/99, and 9/05, and Z1.3-892 11 8/09. The Regional Research Institute for Agriculture and Fisheries has been a major supporter and partner in the work over the past 20 years. The Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) supports the program by institutional and project (FKZ 0330532, FKZ 0330718) funding. Without this support, the work would not have been possible.


  1. Albrecht ML (1964) Die Oder als Fischgewässer. Z Fisch 12(6/7):479–506Google Scholar
  2. Arndt GM, Anders E (1997) Der Stör (Acipenser sturio L.) und seine Wiedereinbürgerung in Mecklenburg–Vorpommern und Deutschland. Fischerei in Mecklenburg–Vorpommern 4:14–19Google Scholar
  3. Arndt GM, Gessner J (2004) Aufbau eines Elterntierbestandes als Grundlage für die Wiedereinbürgerung des Störs im Ostseeeinzugsgebiet. Wissenschaftliche Schriftenreihe Fisch und Umwelt Mecklenburg–Vorpommern e.V.:5–22Google Scholar
  4. Arndt GM, Gessner J, Anders E, Spratte S, Filipiak J, Debus L, Skora K (2000) Predominance of exotic and introduced species sturgeons among sturgeons captured from the Baltic and North Seas and their watersheds, 1981–1999. Bol Inst Oceanogr 16(1–4):29–36Google Scholar
  5. Arndt GM, Gessner J, Bartel R (2006) Characteristics and availability of spawning habitat for Baltic sturgeon in the Oder River and its tributaries. Appl Ichthyol 22(suppl 1):172–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Artyukhin E, Vecsei P (1999) On the status of Atlantic sturgeon: conspecificity of European Acipenser sturio and North American Acipenser oxyrinchus. J Appl Ichthyol 15:35C–37CCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bartel R (2004) The Polish attempts in Salmon restoration and their effects. BfN Skripten, 104. Bundesamt für Naturschutz, Bonn, pp 111–118Google Scholar
  8. Bartel R, Pender R (2007) Prospects and perspectives of fisheries in the coastal zone of the southern Baltic. In: Kubiak J (ed) Inland fisheries in Western Pomerania in the light of new regulations of European Union Policies. Prospects and Perspectives of Fisheries in coast vol II. Szczecin, pp 103–110Google Scholar
  9. Bauch G (1958) Untersuchung über die Gründe für den Ertragsrückgang der Elbfischerei zwischen Elbsandsteingebirge und Boizenburg. Z Fisch 7:161–437Google Scholar
  10. Beamesderfer RCP, Farr RA (1996) Alternatives for the protection and restoration of sturgeons and their habitat. Environ Biol Fish 18:407–417Google Scholar
  11. Benecke N (1995) Neue archäozoologischer Forschungen am Burgwall von Lossow, Ortsteil von Frankfurt/Oder – einige vorläufige Ergebnisse. Acta Praehist et Archaeol 26/27:14–23Google Scholar
  12. Bennecke B (1881) Fische, Fischerei und Fischzucht in Ost- und Westpreußen. Hartungsche Verlagsdruckerei, Königsberg, 331 ppGoogle Scholar
  13. Birstein VJ (1993) Sturgeons and Paddlefishes: Threatened Fishes in Need of Conservation. Conservation Biology 7:773–787Google Scholar
  14. Birstein VJ, Betts J, De Salle R (1998) Molecular identification of Acipenser sturio specimens: a warning note for recovery plans. Biol Conserv 84:97–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bischoff A, Wolter C (2001) The flood of the century on the River Oder: effects on the 0+ community and implications for floodplain restoration. Regul Rivers 17:171–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Brosse L, Rochard E, Dumont P, Lepage M (2000) First results on the diet of the European sturgeon, Acipenser sturio, in the Gironde estuary. Comparison with the benthic fauna. Cybium 24:49–61Google Scholar
  17. Castelnaud G, Rochard E, Jatteau P, Lepage M (1991) Données actuelles sur la biologie d’Acipenser sturio dans l’estuaire de la Gironde. In: Williot P (ed) Acipenser. Cemagref, Antony, pp 251–275Google Scholar
  18. Dadswell MJ (2002) A review of the status of Atlantic sturgeon in Canada, with comparisons to populations in the United States and Europe. Fisheries 31(5):218–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Elie P (ed) (1997) Restauration de l’esturgeon Européen Acipenser sturio. Rapport final du programme execution, Operations: I-III, 1994–1997, vol 24. Cemagref, Antony, 381 ppGoogle Scholar
  20. Elvira B, Almodovar A (2000) Further observations on the morphological characters of Acipenser sturio L., 1758 from the Iberian Peninsula: a comparison with North and Adriatic Sea populations. Bol Inst Esp Oceanogr 16:89–97Google Scholar
  21. Elvira B, Gessner J (1996) The society to save the sturgeon Acipenser sturio. Sturgeon Q 4(1/2):7Google Scholar
  22. Fredrich F, Kapusta A, Ebert M, Duda A, Gessner J (2008) Migratory behaviour of young sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrinchus in the Oder (Odra) River catchment – preliminary results of a radio telemetric study in the Drage (Drawa) River, Poland. Arch Pol Fish 16(2):105–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gessner J (2000) Reasons for the decline of Acipenser sturio L., 1758 in central Europe, and attempts at its restoration. Symposium on conservation of the Atlantic sturgeon Acipenser sturio L., 1758 in Europe, Madrid. Bol Inst Esp Oceanogr 16(1–4):117–126Google Scholar
  24. Gessner J, Arndt GM (2006) Modifications of gill nets to minimize by-catch of sturgeons. J Appl Ichthyol 22(suppl 1):166–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gessner J, Bartel R (2000) Is there still suitable habitat for sturgeons in the Oder River tributary? Symposium on conservation of the Atlantic sturgeon Acipenser sturio L., 1758 in Europe, Madrid. Bol Inst Esp Oceanogr 16(1–4):127–137Google Scholar
  26. Gessner J, Debus L, Filipiak J, Spratte, S, Skora KE, Arndt G-M (1999) Development of sturgeon catches in German and adjacent waters since 1980. J Appl Ichthyol 15:136–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gessner J, Ritterhoff J (eds) (2004) Species differentiation and population identification in the common sturgeon Acipenser sturio L. In: Proceedings of the International Expert Workshop Blossin, Germany, 27–28th June 2002. BfN Skripten 74. Bundesamt für Naturschutz, BonnGoogle Scholar
  28. Gessner J, Arndt G M, Tiedemann R, Bartel R, Kirschbaum F (2006) Remediation measures for the Baltic sturgeon: status review and perspectives. Journal of Applied Ichthyology 22:23–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gessner J, Arndt GM, Anders E, Wuertz S, Bartel R, Zdanowski B (2008a) The development of a broodstock and rearing of Acipenser oxyrinchus between 1998 and 2007 as a prerequisite for stocking the tributaries to the Baltic Sea. Pp. In: Kolman R, Kapusta A (eds) Actual status and active protection of sturgeon populations endangered by extinction. Wydawictnictwo Instytutu Rybactwa Srodalowengo, Olsztyn, pp 19–30Google Scholar
  30. Gessner J, Midgalska B, Tautenhahn M, Domagala J, Fredrich F, Bartel R (2008b) Migration analysis of juvenile sturgeons (Acipenser oxyrinchus) in the Oder River catchment as determined by catch data. In: Kolman R, Kapusta A (eds) Actual status and active protection of sturgeon populations endangered by extinction. Wydawictnictwo Instytutu Rybactwa Srodalowengo, Olsztyn, pp 151–162Google Scholar
  31. Gessner J, Horvath A, Arndt GM, Urbanyi B, Anders E, Hegyi A, Wuertz S (2009a) Intercontinental transfer of adult Acipenser oxyrinchus – impact assessment of aviation transport conditions on blood parameters. J Appl Ichthyol 25:365–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gessner J, Würtz S, Kamerichs CM, Kloas W (2009b) Substrate related behavioural response in early life stages of American Atlantic sturgeon A. oxyrinchus. J Appl Ichthyol 25(suppl 2):83–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gessner J, Tautenhahn M, von Nordheim H, Borchers T (2010) Nationaler Aktionsplan zum Schutz und zur Erhaltung des europäischen Störs (Acipenser sturio). Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit und Bundesamt für Naturschutz, Bonn, 84 ppGoogle Scholar
  34. Gröger J, Debus L (2000) Morphometric comparison of Acipenser sturio L. populations based on mixed estimation and morphometric measurements. Arch Fish Mar Res 48:175–193Google Scholar
  35. HELCOM (1993) Second Baltic Sea pollution load compilation. Baltic Sea Environ Proc 39:1–162Google Scholar
  36. Hermel UR (1995) Möglichkeiten eines ökologischen Wassermanagements unter Berücksichtigung der Belange der Schifffahrt, des Hochwasserschutzes, der Landwirtschaft und der Fischerei. Thesis, European Postgraduate Programme 1994/1995 in Environmental Management, Berlin, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  37. Holčik J (2000) Major problems concerning the conservation and recovery of the Atlantic sturgeon Acipenser sturio. Bol Inst Esp Oceanogr 16:139–148Google Scholar
  38. Holčik J, Kinzelbach R, Sokolov LI, Vasil’ev V (1989) Acipenser sturio Linnaeus, 1758. General introduction of fishes. Acipenseriformes. In: Holcik J (ed) The freshwater fishes of Europe, vol 1. AULA Verlag, Wiesbaden, pp 367–394Google Scholar
  39. IKSO (2004) Aktionsprogramm Hochwasserschutz im Einzugsgebiet der Oder. Internationale Kommission zum Schutz der Oder gegen Verunreinigung, Wroclaw, 37 ppGoogle Scholar
  40. Jatteau P (1998) Etude bibliographique des principales caractéristiques de l’écologie des larves d’Acipenséridés. Bull Fr Pêche Piscic 350–351:445–464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Jego S, Gazeau C, Jatteau P, Elie P, Rochard E (2002) Les frayères potentielles de l’esturgeon Européen Acipenser sturio L. 1758 dans le bassin Garonne–Dordogne. Méthodes d’investigation, état actuel et perspectives. Bull Fr Pêche Piscic 365(366):487–505CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. King TL, Lubinski BA, Spidle AP (2001) Microsatellite DNA variation in Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) and cross-species amplification in the Acipenseridae. Conserv Genet 2:103–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kirschbaum F, Gessner J (2000) Re-establishment program for Acipenser sturio L., 1758: the German approach. Symposium on conservation of the Atlantic sturgeon Acipenser sturio L., 1758 in Europe, Madrid. Bol Inst Esp Oceanogr 16:1–4, 149–156Google Scholar
  44. Kirschbaum F, Gessner J (2002) Perspectives for the re-introduction of the European sturgeon Acipenser sturio in the Elbe River system. In: Thiel R (ed) Ökologie der Elbefische Z Fischk Suppl, vol 1, pp 217–232Google Scholar
  45. Kulmatycki W (1932) About the protection of the sturgeons in Polish Rivers. Ochrona Przyrody 12:8–28 (In Polish)Google Scholar
  46. Ludwig A, Gessner J (2007) What makes the difference – sea sturgeon on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Am Fish Soc Symp 56:285–300Google Scholar
  47. Ludwig A, Debus L, Lieckfeldt D, Wirgin I, Benecke N, Jenneckens I, Williot P, Waldman JR, Pitra C (2002) When the American sea sturgeon swam east. Nature 419:447–448PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ludwig AN, Arndt U, Lippold S, Benecke N, Debus L, King TL, Matsamura S (2008) Tracing the first steps of American sturgeon pioneers in Europe. BMC Evol Biol 8:221–236PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Ludwig A, Makowiecki D, Benecke N (2009) Further evidence of trans-Atlantic colonization of Western Europe by American Atlantic sturgeons. Archaeofauna 18:185–192Google Scholar
  50. Magnin E (1962) Recherches sur la systématique et la biologie des Acipenséridés Acipenser sturio L., Acipenser oxyrhynchus Mitchill et Acipenser fulvescens Raf. Ann Stat Cent Hydrobiol Appl 9:3–242Google Scholar
  51. Maleczynski K (1963) History of Silesia. Part III: from the end of the 16th century to 1763. Ossolineum, Wroclaw, 626 ppGoogle Scholar
  52. Mamcarz A (2000) Decline of the Atlantic sturgeon Acipenser sturio L., 1758 in Poland: an outline of problems and prospects. Bol Inst Esp Oceaogr 16:191–202Google Scholar
  53. Paaver T (1996) A common or Atlantic sturgeon, Acipenser sturio, was caught in the Estonian waters of the Baltic Sea. Sturgeon Q 4(3):7Google Scholar
  54. Prange A, Furrer R, Einax JW (2000) Die Elbe und ihre Nebenflüsse – Belastung, Trends, Bewertung, Perspektiven, ATV-DVWK-Forschungsberichte. GfA, Hennef, p 168Google Scholar
  55. Przybyl A (1976) Historic distribution of common sturgeon Acipenser sturio in Warta River. OT: Wystepowanie jesiotra zachodniego A. sturio w dorceczu Warty. Ochrona Przyrody 32(5):5–12Google Scholar
  56. Rochard E, Castelnaud G, Lepage M (1990) Sturgeons (Pisces: Acipenseridae); threats and prospects. Journal of Fish Biology 37:123–132Google Scholar
  57. Rochard E, Lepage M, Meauze L (1997) Identification et caractérisation de l’aire de répartition marine de l’esturgeon européen Acipenser sturio à partir de déclarations de captures. Aquat Living Res 10:101–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Schmidt GW (1996) Wiedereinbürgerung des Lachses Salmo salar in Nordrhein-Westfalen - Allgemeine Biologie des Lachses sowie Konzeption und Stand des Wiedereinbürgerungsprogramms unter besonderere Berücksichtigung der Sieg. Landesanstalt für Ökologie, Bodenordnung und Forsten/ Landesdamt für Agrarordnung NRW. LÖBF-Mitt 11:1–194Google Scholar
  59. Schiemenz P (1905) Weitere fischereiliche Studien über organische Abwässer. Z f Fischerei 13:49–81Google Scholar
  60. Schräder T, Czensny R (1930) Die Untersuchung der oberschlesischen Oder am 2. und 3. Oktober 1928. Z Fisch 28:191–220Google Scholar
  61. Seligo A (1931) Die Seefischerei von Danzig. Handbuch der Seefischerei Nordeuropas VIII(7):25–28Google Scholar
  62. St Pierre R (1996) Breeding and stocking protocol for cultured Atlantic sturgeon. Final report from the Atlantic Sturgeon Aquaculture and Stocking Committee to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Atlantic Sturgeon Management Board, 16 ppGoogle Scholar
  63. Sulak KJ, Clugston JP (1999) Early life history and population structure of Gulf sturgeon, Acipenser desotoi, in the Suwanee River, Florida. J Appl Ichthyol 15:116–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Sych R, Bartel R, Bieniarz K, Mastynski J (1996) Project for the restoration of migratory fish species in Poland. OT: Projekt Restytucji Ryb Wedrownych w Polsce. Opracowanie Zespolowe, 40 ppGoogle Scholar
  65. Thiel R, Nellen W, Ergenzinger P, Kirschbaum F, Knösche R, Larink O, Winkler HM (1998) Ökologische Zusammenhänge zwischen Fischgemeinschafts- und Lebensraumstrukturen der Elbe. Z Ökol Naturschutz 7:67–70Google Scholar
  66. Tiedemann R, Moll K, Paulus KB, Scheer M, Williot P, Bartel R, Gessner J, Kirschbaum F (2007) Atlantic sturgeons (Acipenser sturio, Acipenser oxyrinchus): American females successful in Europe. Naturwissenschaften 94:213–217PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Tikhiy MI (1929) German sturgeon in the Rioni River. OT: Nemetskiy osetr v Rione. Priroda 4:369Google Scholar
  68. von Nordheim H, Gessner J, Kirschbaum F, Anders E, Arndt G-M (2001) Das Wiedereinbürgerungsprogramm für A. sturio – Hintergründe und Konzeption. In: Der Stör Acipenser sturio – Fisch des Jahres 2001. Hrsg. Verband Deutsche Sportfischer. Verlag M. Faste, Offenbach, pp 30–49Google Scholar
  69. Williot P, Rochard E, Castelnaud G, Rouault T, Brun R, Elie P (1997) Biological and ecological characteristics of European Atlantic sturgeon, Acipenser sturio, as foundations for a restoration programme in France. Environ Biol Fishes 48:359–370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Wolter C, Vilcinkas A (1998) Fish community structure in lowland waterways: fundamental and applied aspects. Pol Arch Hydrobiol 45(2):137–149Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jörn Gessner
    • 1
  • Gerd-Michael Arndt
    • 2
  • Frank Fredrich
    • 3
  • Arne Ludwig
    • 4
  • Frank Kirschbaum
    • 5
  • Ryszard Bartel
    • 6
  • Henning von Nordheim
    • 7
  1. 1.Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland FisheriesBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Fisch und Umwelt Mecklenburg-Vorpommern e.V.RostockGermany
  3. 3.Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und BinnenfischereiBerlinGermany
  4. 4.Department of Evolutionary GeneticsInstitute for Zoo and Wildlife ResearchBerlinGermany
  5. 5.Faculty of Agriculture and Horticulture, Biology and Ecology of FishesHumboldt UniversityBerlinGermany
  6. 6.Zakład Ryb WędrownychInstytut Rybactwa ŚródlądowegoGdańskPoland
  7. 7.Fachgebiet Meeres- und KüstennaturschutzBundesamt für NaturschutzPutbusGermany

Personalised recommendations