Factors influencing the natural reproduction decline in the beluga ( Huso huso , Linnaeus, 1758) , Russian sturgeon ( Acipenser gueldenstaedtii, Brandt & Ratzeburg, 1833) , and stellate sturgeon ( A. stellatus , Pallas, 1771) of the Volga-Caspian basin: A review
Ruban, G.; Khodorevskaya, R.; Shatunovskii, M.
Journal of Applied Ichthyology 35(1): 387-395
ISSN/ISBN: 0175-8659 DOI: 10.1111/jai.13885
The review describes the changes in natural reproduction of three important sturgeon species in the Volga–Caspian basin: (a) the beluga (Huso huso Linneaus, 1758), (b) the Russian sturgeon (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii Brandt &Ratzeburg, 1833), and (c) the stellate sturgeon (Acipenser stellatus Pallas, 1771). Since the past 60 years, these species responded to severe influences of natural and anthropogenic factors. On the basis of original and published data, an analysis has been made of (a) the numbers of larvae migrating from spawning sites (according to plankton net survey), (b) fecundity and histological anomalies in gonad development, (c) the numbers of adult sturgeons in the Caspian Sea and of spawners migrating to the Volga River (according to trawl and beach seine survey), and (d) foraging resources for the sturgeons. The results show that their natural reproduction in the Volga–Caspian basin has declined drastically during the past decades under the impact of (a) fluctuations of the Caspian Sea level and flow discharge from the Volga River, (b) blockage of sturgeon migration routes and loss of spawning sites because of dam construction, (c) water pollution in the lower reaches of the Volga River and in the Caspian Sea, and (d) intensive and selective illegal and unreported fishing.