Habitat and Ecology
Biology: Anadromous (spending at least part of its life in salt water and returning to rivers to breed). Males reproduce for the first time at 8-15 years, females at 12-18. Age range for mature females is 6-40 years; 85% are between 14-18 years, and 80% of males are between 12-16yrs (Moghim 2003). Average generation length is 14 years. This species does not spawn every year. Spawning takes place in June-August when temperature rises above 16C. In the southern Caspian basin, the Persian Sturgeon spawns in April-September but reproduction is interrupted from June to August when temperature rises above 25C. Most individuals migrate upriver in April-May, but some may enter rivers at other times of the year. In the southern Caspian basin, there is a second run in September-October. Juveniles migrate to the sea during their first summer and remain there until maturity. At sea, the Persian Sturgeon feeds on a wide variety of benthic molluscs, crustaceans and small fish.
This species has different ecological biological requirements to A. gueldenstaedtii, as it prefers warmer water for spawning and has a shorter migration run.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Acipenser persicus
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.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Acipenser persicus
Public Records: 5
Specimens with Barcodes: 10
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Endangered (EN)
Iranian catch data shows that there has been between 54-56% decline from 1960/65 to 2006; the catch has continued to decline since 2006 but data is not yet available for this time period. The decline in catch does reflect a decline in abundance even though there are fisheries regulations and a reduction in catch effort (Pourkazemi pers. comm.).
In Russia, commercial catch in the Caspian Sea has been banned since 2000. The 2007 Quota for scientific catch was 8 tonnes; it is unknown if this was met.
The following Iranian catch data (Pourkazemi 2006) shows the total sturgeon catch from Iran (it is estimated that approximately 40% of the catch from 1960 to 1989 and 50% of the catch between 1990 and 2007 was of A. persicus, Pourkazemi pers. comm.):
1960 - 2,000 tonnes (A. persicus = 440 tonnes)
1965 - 2,100 tonnes (A. persicus = 462 tonnes)
1970 - 3,000 tonnes (A. persicus = 750 tonnes)
1975 - 1,675 tonnes (A. persicus = 302 tonnes)
1980 - 1,429 tonnes (A. persicus = 372 tonnes)
1985 - 1,650 tonnes (A. persicus = 297 tonnes)
1990 - 2,645 tonnes (A. persicus = 582 tonnes)
1995 - 1,500 tonnes (A. persicus = 480 tonnes)
1997 - 1,300 tonnes (A. persicus = 559 tonnes)
1998 - 1,200 tonnes (A. persicus = 588 tonnes)
1999 - 1,000 tonnes (A. persicus = 480 tonnes)
2000 - 1,000 tonnes (A. persicus = 540 tonnes)
2001 - 870 tonnes (A. persicus = 557 tonnes)
2002 - 643 tonnes (A. persicus = 418 tonnes)
2003 - 463 tonnes (A. persicus = 315 tonnes)
2004 - 500 tonnes (A. persicus = 345 tonnes)
2006 - 330 tonnes (A. persicus = 201 tonnes)
2007 - 225 tonnes (A. persicus = 137 tonnes)
In Iran, pollution from agriculture and domestic waste causes loss and degradation of spawning sites. In Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, oil and industrial pollution has led to the loss of suitable feeding grounds. In Russia, oil pollution is a potential threat. Dams across the region have also led to the blocking of access to spawning grounds.
The Allee affect is also a potential threat to the species.
The lack of ability to genetically identify the species in international trade is a potential threat, as Russian and Persian Sturgeon (caviar) can be mixed.
There is strict national and international regulation of fishing and trading of caviar and meat, but there is still illegal trade. This species was listed on CITES Appendix II in 1998.
A large scale study (joint between Iran and Russia) on the genetic and morpometric differences between these two species is needed. This was identified as a priority in the World Bank sponsored Regional Workshop on Sturgeon Genetics, June 2009. A national action plan is being developed for conservation and sustainable use of this species in Iran. Public awareness raising is an ongoing project in Iran.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
The Persian Sturgeon has an elongated, bulky body with a bluish tint. This type of sturgeon is endemic to the Caspian and Black Sea basins, but primarily resides in the Caspian Sea. Populations may also occur in tributaries and rivers inbound to the Caspian Sea. Sturgeons are commercially important fishes valued for their meat but mainly for their roe. Formerly omnipresent in the region, heavy fishing of the sturgeon for caviar has forced it to Endangered Species status.
The Persian sturgeon feeds at the shelf zone of the sea, primarily in the eastern part of the South Caspian. Individual specimens are found in the North Caspian, western part of the Middle and South Caspian.
The Persian sturgeon is a heterotroph equipped with tactile and gustatory receptors; when feeding it simply sucks in its food. The eating habits of the sturgeon change throughout its life. As it begins life the sturgeon feeds on invertebrates including Mysid shrimp, Chironomid flies and gammarid amphipods. At approximately age 2–3 years many feed on crabs or fish, and finally in adulthood the Persian sturgeon consumption is primarily fish.
The sturgeon mainly reproduces in the Volga, Kura, Araks, and Ural rivers. This sexual reproduction occurs in waters that are 20-25°C. Spawning occurs at different times for the different rivers. There is spawning in the Volga river from late July to early August, in the Krua river from April to mid-September and in the Ural river from June to July. Other than at times of spawning the sturgeon is a bottom dweller in the mud or sand.
There are four considerations one must account for when discussing the conservation of the Persian Sturgeon. The regulation of streams and the damming of rivers, the loss of spawning areas, contamination levels of rivers into the Caspian Sea and fishing at sea. Many of the problems for the sturgeon are inflicted by human activity, especially fishing. When fisherman take the Sturgeon out of the sea prematurely they disrupt the ecological cycle by taking out immature fish and decreasing the spawning population. One such solution to this problem would be governmental or non-governmental subsidies to aid hatcheries in the artificial reproduction of the Persian Sturgeon.
- Kuliev, ZM & Ivanova, LA. "Acipenser persicus". Caspian Environment Org (http://www.caspianenvironment.org/biodb/eng/fishes/Acipenser%20persicus/main.htm) Accessed 4/27/2007.
- Alavi, Sayyed Mohammad Hadi & Cosson, Jacky. Sperm motility and fertilizing ability in the Persian sturgeon Acipenser persicus. Aquaculture Research, 2005, 36, 841-850. Accessed May 1, 2007.
- Sturgeon Specialist Group 1996. Acipenser persicus. In: IUCN 2006. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Accessed April 27, 2007.
- Kuliev, ZM & Ivanova, LA. "Acipenser persicus". Caspian Environment Org (http://www.caspianenvironment.org/biodb/eng/fishes/Acipenser%20persicus/main.htm) Accessed April 27, 2007.
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