We work on the prerequisites for the restoration and reestablishment of both the European and the Baltic sturgeon in their historic range – with a focus on the rivers Elbe and Oder. We combine restoration management and functional biology while studying behavior of early life phases to be related to physiological effects of the environment. The results help us to develop assessment tools for habitat suitability studies and to improve rearing conditions to increase fitness for survival.
In collaboration with our our geneticists we develop breeding plans and management tools to improve broodstock maintenance and restoration efficiency of the ex situ measures. The group contributes to the work on functional genomics as an emerging field. The results are applied to assess the adaptive potential of animals, their response to training and to verify effects of environmental adaptation in early life phases. The results are utilized to develop on site rearing technology in an EMFF project. Restoration guidance is under development in close cooperation with the respective Expert Groups under Helcom and in international panels such as the IUCN Sturgeon Specialist Group, ICES WGDIAD, the World Sturgeon Conservation Society (WSCS), but also in support of regional conventions such as Bern, Bucharest, Oslo-Paris and commission (ICPDR).
Field studies on movement and habitat use in the wild, and recapture data of juvenile sturgeons are used to determine critical impacts and to develop counter measures: for instance modified gillnets for the inner coastal waters that can reduce by-catch of sturgeons by 98%. The in situ work also addresses the restoration options and effects for large rivers in close collaboration with our colleagues of the CCRD 3, exemplified in the assessment of management options on the River Havel. Joint work and transfer of the experiences in this work is taking place through collaborations with partners in France, the Netherlands, the Danube region, under the Helsinki Convention, the Bern Convention as well as through the World Sturgeon Conservation Society.
To increase public awareness, the project Wanderfisch – funded during the Science Year by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research – involved several groups in public releases at the river Oder.and the infrastructure established continues toprovide information and materials for schools and educational institutions,