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ANR funded project

Contaminants et Environnements : Santé, Adaptabilité, Comportements et Usages (CESA) 2013
Projet SturTOP

Vulnerability and adaptability of the last population of the European Sturgeon (Acipenser sturio) to environmental stress factors : temperature, oxygen, pollutants.

The European sturgeon (Acipenser sturio) is the most endangered migratory diadromous fish in Europe. The Garonne-Dordogne basin is host to the last population of this species. Pollution and global warming represent probable threats for this endangered species. SturTOP is a multidisciplinary research project which will investigate effects of chemical, thermal or hypoxic stress conditions on the general health, the physiology, the behavior and the adaptability of the first life stages of the European sturgeon. Both laboratory experiments and field study will be carried out to document the vulnerability and the adaptability of this species. In a first step, the environmental quality of the identified spawning grounds will be assessed in terms of factors associated with climate changes and pollution in the catchment area. The chemical and physico-chemical quality and the toxic potency of these areas will be evaluated. In a second step, the sensitivity of the sturgeon embryos and larvae to thermal and oxic conditions and to cocktails of pollutants encountered in the Dordogne-Garonne basin will be studied. The exposure protocol and the methods for measuring the effects will be specifically adapted to the sturgeon. A first series of experiments will be performed to evaluate biological responses of embryos and larvae exposed in controlled conditions to environmental ranges of temperature, oxygen and pollutant mixture. A second series of experiments will focus on the responses of embryos exposed to sediments (or biofilms) collected from three selected spawning grounds by applying the same temperature and oxygen conditions as currently encountered in summer in these sites. A third series of experiments will be carried out in situ by placing European sturgeon embryos obtained by assisted reproductions in field incubators in the three spawning ground sites selected beforehand. For each series of experiments, studied effects will concern primarily the individual fitness of larvae i.e. survival, early ontogeny and behavior. To get more precise and complete information about sub-lethal effects and mechanisms of toxicity or adaptation, DNA damage and epigenetic modifications, gene expression and protein expression profile will be analysed. In a third step, the survival and the development of 3 month-old farmed sturgeon when they are released in September in the Dordogne and Garonne will be studied. These areas will be fully characterised by chemical analysis of sediment, water column and benthic preys. Toxic and/or adaptive responses of the juvenile sturgeons exposed in experimental systems which mimic the environmental conditions will then be studied. In a fourth step, we will investigate the influence of the quality of the habitat on the general health and contamination of juveniles. Non-destructive sampling techniques will be specifically developed for tissue collection from wild sturgeons in order to evaluate pollutant exposure and health status. Environmental exposure to pollutants will be evaluated thanks to individual dosimeters and to chemical analysis of stomach content. In a final step, data will be synthesised into a model which will simulate the future for a cohort subjected to multiple stresses. Expected results will give insights into the ability of this species to grow and to reproduce in the Gironde estuary and to adapt to changing environmental conditions. It could help decision-making by managers in charge of restoration plans for this species.


EPOC Environnements et Paléoenvironnements Océaniques et Continentaux, Université Bordeaux 1

CNRS UMR ECOLAB Laboratoire Ecologie fonctionnelle et environnement

LIENSs LItoral ENvironnement et Sociétés UMR 7266




ANR grant: 469 872 euros
Beginning and duration: mars 2013 - 48 mois


ANR Programme: Contaminants et Environnements : Santé, Adaptabilité, Comportements et Usages (CESA) 2013

Project ID: ANR-13-CESA-0018

Project coordinator:
Monsieur Jérome CACHOT (Environnements et Paléoenvironnements Océaniques et Continentaux, Université Bordeaux 1)


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The project coordinator is the author of this abstract and is therefore responsible for the content of the summary. The ANR disclaims all responsibility in connection with its content.