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Workshops & Discussion Forum

Workshops & Discussion Forum

The workshops provide the opportunity to put the theory from the sessions directly into practice and to get a deeper understanding of the provided topics and discuss issues with experienced colleagues.  The moderated discussion forum is intended as a round table, giving attendants the chance to develop and discuss strategies for the future.

Workshop 1: Stock Assessment - Population Assessments for Sturgeon:  Methodological and biological requirements in the design of programs

Populations of sturgeon around the world have suffered major declines throughout their range as a result of overfishing, pollution, and habitat loss. As a result, many species and populations are currently undergoing intensive recovery and management actions. Estimating abundance for sturgeon populations is of fundamental importance to many of these recovery and management programs worldwide. Despite this, quantified population assessments are still lacking for many populations. Results from population assessments are typically met with uncertainty because they are difficult and expensive to collect due to many sturgeon species occupying large spatial areas, residing in complex or industrialized rivers, having significant migratory behaviours that influence habitat occupancy during the course of their life cycle, or being in such low abundance that both encounter and recapture rates during assessments preclude accurate abundance estimates. Additionally, sturgeon have a unique life history and understanding a species biology and ecology and incorporating these uncertainties and sampling challenges into the design of programs will help ensure success. Finally, understanding how the design of an assessment program can influence results from statistical models is an important consideration. Regardless of the challenges unique to a single population of sturgeon, science-based population assessments are critical to meeting current and future management and recovery objectives worldwide.

The purpose of this workshop is to provide participants with an interactive forum to discuss ongoing and emerging techniques for population assessment of sturgeon with the overall objective of improving collaboration and discussion between researchers. We will bring together results from ongoing population assessments for sturgeon populations worldwide and provide a framework for discussing tradeoffs between approaches in a structured format. The workshop is intended for those currently designing or implementing population assessments for sturgeon or for those in the process of interpreting results. The workshop will cover the following areas related to population assessment:

  • Overview of population assessments for sturgeon
  • Considerations in the design of population assessments
  • Overview of methods and approaches to population assessment including a comparison between designs and methods currently being used
  • Discussion of specific types of data that are important when assessing changes in abundance, distribution, and overall population status
  • Overview of ecosystem-based approaches that include sturgeon
  • Introduction to models used to analyze population assessment data

Throughout the workshop, we will incorporate overview papers that consider a variety of aspects related to the assessment of sturgeon populations. While the workshop will generally focus on population assessment to quantify abundance, discussion of the benefits of different approaches to meeting other program goals is expected.

Workshop 2: Incorporating uncertainty into sturgeon data analysis

An introduction into uncertainty and how (and why) it can be incorporated into data analysis. It will include a review of resampling techniques and hierarchical Bayesian modeling. Examples of Bayesian models used for sturgeon analyses (e.g., surplus production model, growth model) will be presented.

Workshop 3: Application of telemetry in Sturgeon research

Telemetry tools allow the assessment of fish behavior in the natural environment including knowledge development on individual movement pattern and habitat use in all kind of environment from lakes to open seas. In sturgeon research, the use of these tools has increased significantly since the last five years and become popular for population assessment and habitat utilization. Moreover the technology has evolved and tag miniaturization offer the possibility to assess young stage ecology at the individual level. After a small introduction, the workshop will focus on practical exercise including tagging and tracking methodology. To finish the afternoon a round table with all the participants will allow sharing the different experiences and identifying the perspectives for telemetry utilization in sturgeon research.

Workshp 4: Using Genetics to Improve Sturgeon and Paddlefish Management and Conservation
Instructors: Andrea Schreier (University of California, Davis), Amy Welsh (West Virginia University)
and Leonardo Congiu (University of Padua)

In this workshop, we will introduce participants to basic concepts in fisheries genetics and discuss complications to genetic analysis introduced by the polyploid nature of sturgeon. We will familiarize participants with the components of the genetic toolbox available for sturgeon and describe new tools under development due to advancements in next generation sequencing technology. Throughout the workshop, we will provide many practical examples of how genetic tools have been applied to sturgeon management and conservation. Finally, participants will break into small groups and be presented with a series of four case studies that will each include background information, a research question, and results from genetic analyses performed to answer that question. Using the skills they’ve gained in the workshop, participants will work together to interpret the genetic results and develop management recommendations to share with other workshop attendees.

We would like the material covered in this workshop to be relevant to the specific questions or concerns of participants. Therefore, we encourage participants to email Andrea Schreier ( by August 31 to suggest topics or questions they would like to see covered.

Sturgeon genetics and genomics practitioners are also welcome to join a World Sturgeon Conservation Society Genetics/Genomics Working Group. This group will meet at ISS8 and future ISS meetings to develop best practices, facilitate collaboration, and discuss new genomics technologies and their application to sturgeon. For more information, please contact Leo Congiu ( or Andrea Schreier (

Discussion Forum 1: Production and marketing of caviar and sturgeon products - current status and future

A discussion forum on caviar and sturgeon production is organized to facilitate the discussion between the aquaculture sector, conservation stakeholders and scientists in an attempt to determine current trends in national and international markets with regard to production trends, market capacity, changing perception and external pressures. The huge and continuous increase in productions all around the world, as well as attempts to protect large markets by the means of trade restrictions, the lack of a new mass market and also the deteriorating image of the industry through continuous illegal harvest, make the caviar market more and more difficult and uncertain. This development in association with newly emerging producers and altered markets result in major uncertainty for producers and in new challenges for science. The aim of the event is to outline the current trends, identify individual and develop global strategies to ensure a vital and sustainable industry benefiting from access to scientific research as well as close collaboration with conservationists. 

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