Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology

Anadromous. Inhabits coastal and estuarine zones at the sea. Breeds in strong-current habitats in main course of large and deep rivers on stone or gavel bottom. Juvenile stay in riverine habitats during their first summer (Ref. 59043). Adults migrating to breed take the path of short, fast flowing mountain rivers (Ref. 33773). Maximum reported length for female is 176.1 cm TL(Ref. 58888).
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Distribution

Range Description

This species is known from the Caspian basin, being most abundant in southern part. In its past distribution, the Persian Sturgeon ascended all rivers around the Caspian Sea. It currently now only ascends lower courses of Iranian rivers, the Volga and Ural, and may enter the Terek and Kura. It is not currently stocked in Russia. More than 80% of total sturgeon stocking in Iran is for this species (Pourkazemi pers. comm.). In 1998, 24.5 million fingerlings were released (Abdolhay and Baradaran Tahouri 2006), but in 2008 only 10 million fingerlings were released.
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Eurasia: Caspian basin, most abundant in the southern part (Ref. 59043). Also distributed along the eastern Black Sea (Ref. 58888). International trade restricted (CITES II, since 1.4.98; CMS Appendix II).
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Eastern Atlantic, Europe and Middle east: Caspian Sea and adjacent watersheds; introduced elsewhere.
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Physical Description

Size

Maximum size: 1580 mm TL
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Max. size

242 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 47532)); 176.1 cm (female); max. published weight: 70.0 kg (Ref. 58888)
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Habitat: At sea, coastal and estuarine zones. Spawns in strong-current habitats in the main course of large and deep rivers on stone or gravel bottom. Juveniles are found in riverine habitats during their first summer.

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 16°C. In the southern Caspian basin, the Persian Sturgeon spawns in April-September but reproduction is interrupted from June to August when temperature rises above 25°C. 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.

Systems
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
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Environment

demersal; anadromous (Ref. 58888); freshwater; brackish; marine
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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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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Acipenser persicus

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---GATCAGATCTACAATGTTATCGTTACAGCCCACGCCTTTGTCATGATTTTCTTTATAGTAATACCCATCATAATTGGCGGATTCGGAAACTGACTGGTCCCCCTAATA---ATTGGGGCCCCAGACATGGCATTTCCTCGCATGAACAATATGAGCTTCTGACTCCTACCCCCATCCTTCCTACTCCTTTTAGCCTCCTCTGGGGTAGAGGCCGGAGCCGGCACAGGGTGAACTGTTTACCCTCCACTGGCGGGAAACCTGGCCCATGCAGGAGCCTCTGTAGACCTA---ACCATTTTCTCCCTTCACCTGGCTGGGGTTTCGTCCATTTTGGGGGCTATTAATTTTATTACCACCATTATTAACATGAAACCCCCCGCAGTATCCCAATATCAAACACCTCTATTTGTGTGATCTGTATTAATCACGGCCGTACTCCTCCTACTATCACTGCCAGTGCTAGCTGCA---GGGATCACAATGCTCCTAACAGACCGAAATTTAAACACCACCTTCTTTGACCCAGCCGGAGGAGGAGACCCCATCCTCTACCAACACCTATTTTGATTTTTTGGT
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Acipenser persicus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 5
Specimens with Barcodes: 10
Species With Barcodes: 1
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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
It is difficult to distinguish a decline of the wild populations due to the long term stocking of the species. However, it is suspected that the native wild population has declined by over 80% in the past three generations (estimated at 42 years) as all the wild populations have almost disappeared, apart from the restocked individuals from Iran. There are only occasional records from the northern Caspian basin (in 2008, 100 immature individuals were caught in the northern Caspian basin (Mugue pers. comm.)). Overfishing at sea for caviar will soon cause extinction of natural populations.

History
  • 1996
    Endangered
    (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
  • 1996
    Endangered
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Population

Population
The only legal commercial exploitation of this species is in Iran (mainly from hatchery stock). Restocking in Iran started in 1969. It is estimated that 80% of catch originates from stocked individuals (Pourkazemi pers. comm.).

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)

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Illegal fishing/poaching across the Caspian region is the principle threat. In the Caspian Sea, the illegal sturgeon catch for all species was evaluated to be 6 to 10 times the legal catch (CITES 2000). Bycatch is also a threat to the species in both rivers and the Caspian Sea. In 1996, fish inspection authorities filed 8,000 citations for violations committed by individuals, mainly in the Astrakhan region along the Volga (Vecsei and Artyukhin 2001).

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.
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Critically Endangered (CR) (A2cde)
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Restocking (since 1969) of the species occurs in Iran. Live gene bank and cryopreservation, DNA and tissue preservation exists in Iran and Russia (cryopreservation and tissue samples only).

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.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: commercial
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Wikipedia

Persian sturgeon

The Persian sturgeon (Acipenser persicus) is a critically endangered species of sturgeon.

Description[edit]

The Persian Sturgeon has an elongated, bulky body with a bluish tint.[1] 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.[2] Formerly omnipresent in the region, heavy fishing of the sturgeon for caviar has forced it to Endangered Species status.[3]

Distribution[edit]


Distribution in The Caspian Sea
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.[4]

Ecology[edit]

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.[4] 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.

Conservation[edit]

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.[4] 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.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kuliev, ZM & Ivanova, LA. "Acipenser persicus". Caspian Environment Org (http://www.caspianenvironment.org/biodb/eng/fishes/Acipenser%20persicus/main.htm) Accessed 4/27/2007.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Sturgeon Specialist Group 1996. Acipenser persicus. In: IUCN 2006. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Accessed April 27, 2007.
  4. ^ a b c d 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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