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(draft Last up-dated: December 9th, 2011 - by Dr. Liliana TÖRÖK)

"SPECIES RECOVERY" RESEARCH TEAM


TEAM IN 2007-2011 PERIOD

Specialists of DDNIRD constantly involved in researches dealing with sturgeon population (monitoring and conservation), having the "Sturgeon Research Group" team as main research team:

Scientific Researcher gr. I :
Dr. SUCIU Radu -

Scientific Researcher gr. III:
PARASCHIV Marian - sturgeon ecology, biotelemetry
SUCIU Marieta - biostatistics, data bases

Specialists of DDNIRD constantly involved in researches dealing with sturgeon population (monitoring and conservation), having the "Sturgeon Research Group" team as secondary research team:

Scientific Researcher gr.III : Dr. ONĂRĂ Dalia- Florentina - molecular biology

Scientific Researcher Assistant: Msc HOLOŞTENCU Daniela

Note: the "Sturgeon Research Group" team has one technician dealing with fishing, electro-narcosis, biotelemetry and one associated collaborator as Scientific Researcher Assistent (eng. HONTZ Ştefan)


HISTORY / TRADITION

Conservation of sturgeons as the most endangered component of the biodiversity in the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve was recognised as a priority in the GEF / World Bank funded project for the Biodiversity of the Danube Delta (1995 - 2000). As a response to this, Danube Delta Institute established in June 1994 the "Sturgeon Research Group".

First tests on using radio or acoustic biotelemetry were conducted by "Sturgeon Research group" in colaboration to associate professor Boyd Kynard of Conte Anadromous Fish Research Centre - Turner’s Falls, MA, USA in September 1996.

"Sturgeon Research group" in colaboration to associate professor Boyd Kynard worked toghether during 1997 – 2000, a crucial period for the development of both logistics and training of  "Sturgeon Research group" team in acoustic telemetry, using Lotek / Canada acoustic transmitters (120) and receivers (7).

Listing in 1998 of sturgeons in Annex 2 of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) lead "Sturgeon Research Group" to became responsible for annual monitoring in Romania the status of sturgeon stock in the NW Black Sea and "Lower Danube River" (2001 - 2006), as requested by CITES resolutions on sturgeons and paddle fishes.

In July 2003 "Sturgeon Research Group" launched their web site “Sturgeons of Romania and CITES”, including an
online data base to record all sturgeons legally captured in .
A regional Strategy and Management Plan for sturgeon conservation and sustainable use was developed by "Sturgeon Research Group" / Danube Delta National Institute in 2003 and adopted by countries of the region in 2005 .

"Sturgeon Research Group"  provided the scientific basis for the Joint Regulation of the Ministries of Agriculture and Environment of May 2006, on conservation of wild sturgeon populations in the "Lower Danube River" and development of sturgeon aquaculture in Romania
and is assisting as "CITES Scientific Authority for Acipenseriformes of Romania", the Supportive Stocking Programme of Romania with "young of the year" of endangered species of sturgeons.

As a recognition of his contribution to the conservation of sturgeons in the "Lower Danube River", at CITES CoP 14 in Den Hague,
Dr. SUCIU Radu  was elected alternate member for Europe of CITES Animals Committee


LOGISTICS OF Sturgeon Research Group
:
- Fishing and telemetry boats: SAM – 75 HP; Linder – 9.5 HP and Zodiac 15 HP;
- special gill nets  (10) for sturgeons of various mesh size, anchors, floats and ropes;
- acoustic biotelemetry equipment (Lotek / 1998 and Vemco / 2009): coded transmitters, automatic submerged receivers, mobile tracking receivers;
- special drift nets (2) for sturgeon eggs and larvae;
- special trammel (2) nets for capturing "young of the year" (YOY) sturgeons;
- shrimp trawl for catching "young of the year" (YOY) sturgeons;
- fish finder and navigation sonars (3);
- DIDSON high frequency acoustic imaging sonar (2009);
- oval experimental tanks (2) with all continuous video recording setup for ELS behavioural studies;
- electro-narcosis tranquilisation apparatus (2) (180 V semi-rectified AC) developed by "Sturgeon Research Group" ;
- electro-narcosis (20 – 40 V DC) tubes (2) for surgical implant of acoustic transmitters to  beluga sturgeons (3.5m) and Stellate / Russian sturgeons (2m);
- endoscope for sexing wild adult sturgeons during biotelemetry studies

experimental and field methodology 

- Fishing method (drifting trammel net) developed by "Sturgeon Research Group"  for monitoring the presence and abundance of downstream moving "young of the year" (YOY) sturgeons;
- Fishing method for eggs, free embryos and larvae using 2mm mesh size drift nets;
- Tracking movement of  "young of the year" (YOY) and adult sturgeons using submerged and mobile acoustic biotelemetry equipment, including transmitters with temperature and depth sensors;
- Satellite biotelemetry using Wildlife Computers popup tags;
- Tranquilisation of wild adult sturgeons using two types of electro-narcosis apparatus developed by "Sturgeon Research Group" ;
- Low – invasive surgical procedure for the implantation of acoustic transmitters to "young of the year" (YOY) sturgeons of wild and hatchery origin and to wild adult sturgeons in the river;
- Sexing adult sturgeons using a glass fibre endoscope;
- Viewing adult sturgeons in deep turbid water using the DIDSON camera; Detecting the type of substrate on the bottom of the LDR using  Kynrad’s manual probing system.

 PROJECTS IN 2007-2011 PERIOD

In the last 5 years the team-members of the "Sturgeon Research Group" were involved in four projects dealing with biology of the species, conservation and impact

Biology of the endangered species and conservation

2

1

1

1

1

Impact     1 1 1


The team-members of the "Sturgeon Research Group" team involved in the above mentioned projects contributed to:
- improving the knolwedges on spawing of beluga and sterlet in the Lower Danube River
- improving the knolwedges on "young of the year" (YOY)in the Lower Danube River
- improving the knolwedges on feeding habits of  "young of the year" (YOY)in the Lower Danube River
- improving the knolwedges on beluga sturgenon downstream movemnet behaviour
- developing the CITES Register of sturgeons in aquaculture of Romania, an internet based registering system of sturgeons in aquaculture of Romania
- education of the local communities to develop new livelihoods (with a focus on community based tourism) as an alternative to the unsustainable fishing of the endangered beluga
- find the best approaches to combat society impacts on the Danube sturgeon fishery ban through tourism 

The "Sturgeon Research Group" were also involved during 2009-2011 in studies concerning the distribution and genetic variability in Salmonides of Romania. The team-members contributed to the assessment of the population satus of elusive Black Sea trout (Salmo trutta labrax, Pallas 1820) and to the characterization of its essential habitatis and to the recent distribution map of the species in Romania.


CONSULTANCY

The "Sturgeon Research Group" team provide during 2009-2011 support and assistance to:

Guidance of PhD students:

2011
Marian Paraschiv – PhD student – Lower Danube University of Galaţ Thesis – Downstream migration of young of the year sturgeons in the Lower Danube River
Marilena Maereanu  - PhD student – Lower Danube University of Galaţ; Thesis - Growing Russian sturgeon (Acipenser güldenstaedti) in intensive systems

2010
Andreea Dudu First year PhD student / University of Bucharest – she received DNA samples and information  of natural / wild hybrids discovered by SRG staff, to be used during her stage at the Molecular Biology Laboratory of Université Montpellier 2, 

2009
Vincent Lespanier
. Beluga sturgeon (Huso huso) in Romania: Regulation, Conservation, and confirmation of natural reproduction in the Lower Danube in 2009 with the aim of supporting wild stocks French MSc student / Universite du Pau et de Pays de l’Adour – France”; 
Ivan Iaric - “Population Viability Analysis of Danube Sturgeons”  –Serbian MSc student / International MSc Programme of Swedish Biodiversity Centre – Uppsala

Guidance of MSc students:


2011

Raluca Munteanu MSc Thesis   “Conservation and sustainable use of wild sturgeon populations of the NW Black Sea and Lower Danube River in ”
Daniela Holostenco MSc Thesis   “Conservation of genetic diversity in population of stellate sturgeons (Acipenser stellatus) of the NW Black Sea and Lower Danube River ” both / Norwegian University of Science and Technology – Trondheim

DISSIMINATION:

Scientific papers:

Iaric I, Lenhardt M, Pallon J, Elfman M, Kalauzi A,
Suciu R, Cvijanovic G, Ebehard T. 2011. Insight into Danube sturgeon life history: trace element assessment in pectoral fin rays Environmental Biology of Fishes vol. 90, no. 2, pp. 171–181

Participation to the international Conference:

Suciu R.
, 2008, Sturgeons Of The NW Black Sea And Lower Danube River Countries, Non Detrimental Findings - CITES Workshop Case Cuncun/Mexico Studies pp.1-27

 
     

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