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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology

Occurs in the sea close to shores and estuaries and in deep stretches of large rivers. Juveniles live in shallow riverine habitats (Ref. 59043). Found over mud and usually solitary. Feeds on mollusks, amphipods and chironomid larvae. Spawns from end of April to June (end of May in Rioni River, Black Sea) (Ref. 3193). Spawning takes place in strong-current habitats in main course of large and deep rivers on stone or gravel bottom (Ref. 59043).
  • Bauchot, M.-L. 1987 Poissons osseux. p. 891-1421. In W. Fischer, M.L. Bauchot and M. Schneider (eds.) Fiches FAO d'identification pour les besoins de la pêche. (rev. 1). Méditerranée et mer Noire. Zone de pêche 37. Vol. II. Commission des Communautés Européennes and FAO, Rome. (Ref. 3397)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=3397&speccode=2504 External link.
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Distribution

Range Description

This species has been recorded from the Black, Azov, Caspian and Aral Seas, and some rivers (Danube up to Bratislava, Volga up to Kazan, Ural up to Chkalov, Don and Kuban, Rioni). It was introduced to Lake Balkhash (Kazakhstan), to the upper Illi River in China, and to River Syr-Darya (Aral basin) in the 1960s.
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Europe: Black, Azov, Caspian and Aral Sea, ascending some rivers (Danube up to Bratislava, Volga up to Kazan, Ural up to Chkalov), unknown or very rare in others. On the verge of extinction in its natural range. Extirpated in Aral basin; nearly extirpated in Black Sea basin; only occasional records from Danube and lower Volga; only a very small population remaining in Rivers Ural (Russia, Kazakhstan) and Rioni (Georgia); no natural spawning population in Iran; established in Lake Balkhash where it forms a large population (Ref. 59043). Artificially propagated (Ref. 6866). International trade restricted (CITES II, since 1.4.98; CMS Appendix II).
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Eastern Atlantic, Europe and Middle East: Basins of Black, Azov, Caspian and Aral seas and Sea of Marmara.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 45 - 57; Analsoft rays: 23 - 37
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Size

Maximum size: 2000 mm TL
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Max. size

200 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 3397)); max. published weight: 80.0 kg (Ref. 52332)
  • Bauchot, M.-L. 1987 Poissons osseux. p. 891-1421. In W. Fischer, M.L. Bauchot and M. Schneider (eds.) Fiches FAO d'identification pour les besoins de la pêche. (rev. 1). Méditerranée et mer Noire. Zone de pêche 37. Vol. II. Commission des Communautés Européennes and FAO, Rome. (Ref. 3397)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=3397&speccode=2504 External link.
  • Rochard, E., P. Williot, G. Castelnau and M. Lepage 1991 Elements de systematique et de biologie des populations sauvages d'esturgeons. p. 475-507. In P. Williot (ed.) Acipenser, Actes du Premier colloque international sur l'esturgeon, Bordeaux, 3-6 Octobre 1989. CEMAGREF Publ. (Ref. 52332)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=52332&speccode=2505 External link.
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Diagnostic Description

Snout moderately long and pointed at tip. Lower lip continuous, not interrupted at centre. Barbels halfway between tip of snout and mouth, reaching the latter. Five rows of scutes, dorsal 11-17, lateral 49-70, but usually 55-56 on each side, ventral 10-16, with no smaller plates between dorsal and ventral rows. Color of back grey, flanks lighter, belly white.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Habitat : At sea, close to shores and estuaries. In freshwater, deep stretches of large rivers. Juveniles in shallow riverine habitats. This species spawns in strong-current habitats in main courses of large and deep rivers on stone or gravel bottom.

Biology: Anadromous (spending at least part of its life in salt water and returning to rivers to breed), with some non-migratory freshwater populations. Males reproduce for the first time at 6-15 years, females at 12-22, with an average generation length of 15 years (but in the Danube, the average population age has now increased and in the Caspian Sea, the average population age is decreasing because of overharvesting). In most drainages, there are two migration runs, in spring and autumn. Individuals migrating in autumn remain in the river until the following spring to spawn. Females reproduce every 2-3 and males every 1-2 years in March-May and at temperatures above 10°C. Most juveniles move to sea in their first summer and remain there until maturity. Some individuals remain in freshwater for a longer period. Feeds on a wide variety of benthic fishes, molluscs and crustaceans.

This species has the highest relative fecundity for any sturgeon species (Chebanov pers. comm.).

Systems
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
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Environment

demersal; anadromous (Ref. 51243); freshwater; brackish; marine; depth range 30 - 60 m (Ref. 3397)
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Depth: 30 - 60m.
From 30 to 60 meters.

Habitat: demersal. Found over mud and usually solitary. Feeds on molluscs, amphipods and chironomid larvae. Spawns from end of April to June (end of May in Rioni River, Black Sea) (Ref. 3193).
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Migration

Anadromous. Fish that ascend rivers to spawn, as salmon and hilsa do. Sub-division of diadromous. Migrations should be cyclical and predictable and cover more than 100 km.
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Trophic Strategy

Feeds on benthic invertebrates and insects (Ref. 3193).
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Spawn in rivers.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Acipenser nudiventris

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 21
Specimens with Barcodes: 33
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Barcode data: Acipenser nudiventris

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 5 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

GGCACAGCCCTC---AGCCTTCTGATCCGTGCCGAACTGAGCCAACCCGGTGCCCTGCTTGGCGAT---GATCAGATCTACAATGTTATCGTCACAGCCCACGCCTTTGTCATGATTTTCTTTATAGTAATGCCCATCATAATTGGCGGATTCGGAAACTGACTAGTCCCCCTAATA---ATTGGAGCCCCAGACATGGCCTTTCCTCGCATGAACAATATGAGCTTCTGACTCCTACCCCCATCCTTCCTACTCCTTTTGGCCTCCTCTGGAGTAGAGGCCGGAGCCGGCACAGGATGAACTGTCTACCCTCCGCTGGCAGGAAACCTGGCCCACGCAGGAGCCTCTGTAGACCTA---ACCATTTTCTCCCTCCATTTGGCCGGGGTTTCGTCCATTTTGGGGGCTATTAATTTTATTACCACAATTATTAACATGAAACCCCCCGCAGTATCCCAATACCAGACACCCCTGTTTGTGTGATCTGTATTAGTCACAGCCGTACTTCTCCTACTATCACTACCAGTGCTAGCTGCA---GGAATCACAATGCTCCTAACAGACCGAAATTTAAACACCACCTTCTTTGACCCAGCCGGAGGAGGAGACCCCATCCTCTACCAACACCTATTTTGATTTTTTGGT
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
CR
Critically Endangered

Red List Criteria
A2cde

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2010

Assessor/s
Gesner, J., Freyhof, J. & Kottelat, M.

Reviewer/s
Pourkazemi, M. & Smith, K.

Contributor/s

Justification
The species is known from the Black, Aral and Caspian seas. However, it is extirpated from the Aral Sea, nearly extirpated in the Black Sea basin and there are only occasional records from lower Volga. The only remaining population occurs in the rivers Ural (Russia, Kazakhstan) and possibly the Rioni (Georgia - last recorded 1997 through bycatch; there are no recent surveys), and possibly the Safid Rud (seven individuals recorded in 2002) in Iran. In Europe, it is thought that few individuals exist in the Danube - indeed it is considered possibly extinct. Even though there is no catch data it is suspected that the species has undergone a population decline of more than 90% in the past three generations (estimated at 45 years) which is expected to continue. It is believed the species is on the verge of global extinction. The largest population is in Lake Balkash (introduced for commercial reasons) which is outside the species natural range.

History
  • 1996
    Endangered
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Population

Population
It is currently known from the Caspian Sea, where it ascends only the Ural river (where it naturally reproduces) and the Sefid Rud River (where there is no natural reproduction), where 5 fish were caught in 2002 (Parandavar et al. 2009). In the Black Sea, it ascends the Rioni (last recorded 1997 through bycatch (Zarkua pers. comm.)). In the Danube it was last recorded in 2003 in Serbia at Apatin (released alive) and in 2005 in Mura in Hungary (killed); both these caught fish were males (Simonovic et al. 2003; Streibel pers. comm.). In Romania, according to a fisherman survey carried out between 1996-2001, 15 individuals were caught by Romanian fishermen (last scientifically recorded in 1950s) (Suciu et al. 2009) .

Little catch data is available. It has not been caught in Ukraine for the past 30 years. In Kasakhstan 12 tonnes were caught in 1990, 26 tonnes in 1999; in Iran 1.9 tonnes were caught in 1990, 21 tonnes in 1999 (CITES Doc. AC.16.7.2), and 1 ton in 2005/6, with 0.5-1% of total sturgeon catch in Iran belonging to this species (in past 20 years) (Pourkazemi pers. comm.). According to Caspian Aquatic Bioresource Commission (CAB), since 2001/2 export quota for caviar is zero for all Caspian range states.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Over harvesting, bycatch and illegal fishing (poaching) along with dams, water abstraction and drought has led to the loss of spawning habitats/ground and has caused massive population declines. In the Caspian Sea and Sea of Azov the illegal sturgeon catch for all species was evaluated to be 6 to 10 times the legal catch (CITES Doc. AC.16.7.2).

Transfers of A. stellatus from the Caspian Sea, carrying a nematode parasite, were introduced to the Aral sea in the late 1960s and along with increasing salinity, helped cause the extirpation of A. nudiventris in the Aral sea within a few years (Gessner, J. pers. comm.).

The Allee affect is also a potential threat to the species (Gessner, J. pers comm.).

Hybridisation between this species and all sturgeons and especially A. stellatus occurs in freshwater naturally (Chebanov pers. Com.).
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Critically Endangered (CR) (A2cde)
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
There is a zero quota of exporting of Caviar (CAB) but there is still a catch for domestic use. Iran and Russia have established gene bank conservation for this species for both live specimens and cryopreservation with DNA and tissue samples. The 2004 progeny have been produced from captive bred individuals - juveniles were released into the Don and Kuban rivers - and there are between 15 and 20 'farms' in Russia (Chebenov pers comm.). In Iran 80,000-1 million fingerlings (3-5 g each) (from ranched individuals) are released annually to the Caspian Sea (Pourkazemi pers comm.). This species was listed on CITES Appendix II in 1998.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: commercial; aquaculture: commercial
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Wikipedia

Bastard sturgeon

The bastard sturgeon, fringebarbel sturgeon, ship sturgeon, spiny sturgeon, or thorn sturgeon (Acipenser nudiventris) is a species of fish in the Acipenseridae family. Formerly abundant in the Black, Aral and Caspian seas, its range is now primarily limited to the Ural River (in Russia and Kazakhstan), with a possible relict populations in the Rioni River in Georgia and the Safid Rud in Iran. The healthiest population is one in Lake Balkhash in Kazakhstan, well outside its natural range, where they were introduced in the 1960s for commercial purposes. It has been reported that this fish has the highest relative fecundity for any sturgeon species.

Head

References[edit]

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