Date of Award

Spring 3-2023

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Ocean Science and Engineering

Committee Chair

Dr. Michael Andres

Committee Chair School

Ocean Science and Engineering

Committee Member 2

Dr. Mark Peterson

Committee Member 2 School

Ocean Science and Engineering

Committee Member 3

Dr. Robert Leaf

Committee Member 3 School

Ocean Science and Engineering


Gulf Sturgeon (GS) are a federally threatened, anadromous species that inhabit coastal rivers in the northern Gulf of Mexico and make annual migrations between riverine and marine habitats. They are divided into western or an eastern river systems based on the location of their natal river relative to Mobile Bay. Tracking of GS movements using acoustic telemetry has occurred since the late 1990s but has increased in use since 2015 for monitoring important habitats that GS rely on throughout their lifetime. For this study, tagged GS were monitored in three areas throughout the central Gulf of Mexico: the Mobile Bay Estuary, barrier island habitats in the Mississippi Sound, and the Pascagoula River from 2016–2022. This study is the first to document and quantify western and eastern river system GS within the Mobile Bay Estuary. This study also compared habitat use of barrier islands within the Mississippi Sound pre- and post-restoration of island pass and littoral nearshore habitats that found occupancy patterns to be consistent but movement patterns to vary pre- and post-restoration. Finally, in-river summer resting habitats (i.e., holding areas) were used by GS of all sizes, and GS movement within these areas was non-random and driven by multiple abiotic and biotic factors. This thesis provides a further understanding of GS habitat use, movements, and inferred behavior within habitats throughout their range and helps address management and recovery goals outlined in the GS five-year recovery plan and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association Southeast Region species recovery grant priorities.

Available for download on Thursday, March 27, 2025