Acipenser baerii 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Acipenseriformes Acipenseridae

Scientific Name: Acipenser baerii
Species Authority: Brandt, 1869
Common Name(s):
English Siberian Sturgeon

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2bcd+4bcd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-10-24
Assessor(s): Ruban, G. & Bin Zhu
Reviewer(s): Pourkazemi, M. & Smith, K.
The species has undergone a sharp decline in both stock and recruitment. The stock decline started in the 1930s, when demand was significantly high, and continues to decline. From the 1930s to 1990s annual sturgeon catches have declined in the Ob (which is estimated to contain 80% of the global population) by 99.5%; in the Yenisei by 97.5% and Lena by 94.5%. Therefore the total global population decline is estimated to be 50-80% over the past 60 years. The three generation period of this species is 75-90 years. This decline is likely to continue into the future. Since the beginning of 1990s, stock abundance declines have mainly been caused by overfishing and dam construction (for hydropower). Also illegal catches cause declines, affecting the abundance mainly of the spawning stock. In all populations especially in populations of the Ob and Kolyma rivers abnormalities were observed in the development and functioning of the reproductive system up to complete sterility of females, caused by water pollution from mining. Abnormalities were observed in 80-100% of females in these rivers. Natural reproduction of the Ob River population has significantly decreased mainly due to damming. Restoration of the Siberian Sturgeon populations because of its late maturity, long intervals between spawns and low productivity of northern water ecosystems is extremely slow. The recent decline in recruitment caused by decline in spawner abundance, damming and abnormalities in development and functioning of reproductive system will translate into a future decline in adult stock. Noting the longevity of this species, restoration of the stock is expected to take several generations. Although this species is listed on CITES Appendix II, further actions are urgently required to ensure wild populations of this species are sustained. Based on the estimated population declines over the past 60+ years and the expected continued declines into the future, this species has been assessed as EN A2bcd+4bcd.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is known from all Siberian rivers draining to the Kara, Laptev and East Siberian seas: basins of the Ob, Taz, Yenisei, Pyasina, Khatanga, Anabar, Olenyek, Lena, Yana, Indigirka, Alazeya (rarely) and Kolyma rivers, Lake Baikal (the Yenisei River basin) and rivers flowing to the lake – the Selenga, Barguzin and Upper Angara. It is most abundant in the Ob, Yenisei and Lena rivers.

This species is also native to the the Irtysh River, in the northwest of Xin jiang province, China. However, wild populations were extirpated from here in the 1950s; the small population that remains here is from stocking (Chen 2007).
Countries occurrence:
China; Kazakhstan; Mongolia; Russian Federation
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The total population of Siberian Sturgeon is unknown. Direct counts and fishery statistics exist but are incomplete. However, a decline in catches of sturgeons within the main rivers of Siberia has been observed from the 1930s (Ruban 2005).

Based on commercial catch data, it is estimated that the Ob River basin contains more than 80% of the global population of this species (Chen 2007). In the Ob River basin, catches declined by ~99.5% from 1410 tonnes in 1935 to 6.7 tonnes in 1996. In the Yenisei River catches declined from 504 tonnes in 1934 to 10-12 tonnes in 2000s (a ~97.5% decline). In the Lena River catches declined from 190 tonnes in 1943 to about 10 tonnes in recent years (a ~94.5% decline) (Ruban 2005).

This species was extirpated from the northwest parts of Xin jiang province, China in the 1950s. The small population that remains here exists through stocking (Chen 2007).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species can be found in all types of freshwater benthic habitats in large rivers and lakes. It spawns in strong-current habitats in the main stream of large and deep rivers on stone or gravel bottom. Numerous spawning sites are located in lower and middle reaches of rivers. Spawning peaks at beginning of June, continuing until end of July.

Spawning periodicity is 3-5 years in females and 2-3 years in males. The generation length of the species ranges from 25-30 years (Chen 2007, Ruban 2005). In northeastern populations, females are twice the age of males (Ruban 2005). The average age at maturity for females is 11 (in Lena River) to 22 (in Lake Baikal), and 9-19 years for males.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):25-30
Movement patterns:Full Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Currently used for traditional Chinese medicine in China, Japan, Korea and Singapore. In the northern parts of China, especially along the Amur River, stocks of this species are farmed, the skin is used for making boots, gloves, hats and some kinds of decoration (Zhu pers. comm).

Aquaculture (in outdoor indoor rearing tanks) is independent of wild-caught material, since artificial reproduction is possible and F2 and higher generations are now used in aquaculture.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The population decline all over the species range is a result of overfishing, damming (Ob, Yenisei, Angara) and poaching. Currently commercial fisheries are banned in the basins of the Ob and Yenisei rivers and the Lake Baikal. A decline in area of occupancy was observed in upper reaches of the Ob, Yenisei and Lena rivers (Ruban 2005). Dam construction at the Ob River resulted in 40% of sturgeon spawning grounds being lost (Gundrizer et al. 1983). At the main sturgeon rivers of Siberia (Ob and Yenisei) the high level of poaching was noted (Krokhalevskii and Mikhalev pers. com.). At the Ob River, natural reproduction of the sturgeon has also declined due to a high level of abnormalities in development and functioning of reproductive system caused by water pollution (Ruban 2005).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The majority of 'conservation' measures historically in place for the Siberian Sturgeon were set up and controlled at local and national level. Their aims are often securing fishing rights, supporting local stock levels. The Ob River and Baikal Lake populations of the sturgeon are included in Red Data Book of Russian Federation. This means that commercial fishing of these populations is now prohibited.

The Siberian Sturgeon was listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1998.  An export permit can only be issued if the specimen was legally obtained and if the export will not be detrimental to the survival of the species.

For the last 10 years, eggs of this species (originating from Russia) are being reared in Chinese hatcheries and young are being released into the upper reaches of the Irtysh River, in the northwest part of Xin jiang province, China. No information is currently available on population numbers. This is being undertaken by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture (Chen 2008).

Classifications [top]

5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.5. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha)
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.10. Marine Neritic - Estuaries
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
5. Law & policy -> 5.1. Legislation -> 5.1.2. National level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.1. Intentional use: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.2. Intentional use: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.2. Dams & water management/use -> 7.2.11. Dams (size unknown)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.8. Other

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.1. Unspecified species
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

9. Pollution -> 9.2. Industrial & military effluents -> 9.2.3. Type Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.8. Other

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
2. Conservation Planning -> 2.3. Harvest & Trade Management Plan
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.2. Harvest level trends

♦  Food - human
 National : ✓  International : ✓ 

♦  Medicine - human & veterinary
 National : ✓  International : ✓ 

♦  Wearing apparel, accessories
 Local : ✓ 

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 National : ✓  International : ✓ 

♦  Research
 International : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Akimova, N.V. and Ruban, G.I. 2001. Reproductive System Condition and the Reason for Decreased Abundance of Siberian Sturgeon Acipenser baerii in the Ob’ River. Journal of Ichthyology 41(2): 177-181.

Chen, X. 2007. Biological characteristics and current situation of resource of species of Acipenseriformes [in Chinese]. Ocean Publishing House, Beijing.

CITES. 2000. Sixteenth Meeting of the CITES Animals Committee Shepherdstown (United States of America) 11-15 December 2000. Implementation of Resolution Conf. 8.9 (Rev.). ACIPENSERIFORMES.

Gundrizer, A.N., Yegorov, A.G., Afanas’eva, V.G., Yen’shina, S.A., Mikhalyev, Yu.V., Setsko, R.I. and Khakimullin, A.A. 1983. Perspectives of sturgeon recruitment in Siberia.// Biological bases of sturgeon fisheries (Perspektivy vosproizvodstva osetrovykh Sibiri.//Biologicheskiye osnovy osetrovodstva). Moscow. Nauka: 241-258.

IUCN. 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2010.1). Available at: (Accessed: 10 March 2010).

Ruban, G.I. 2005. The Siberian Sturgeon Acipenser baerii Brandt. Species structure and Ecology. Special Publication Series. World Sturgeon Conservation Society., Norderstedt.

Citation: Ruban, G. & Bin Zhu. 2010. Acipenser baerii. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T244A13046607. . Downloaded on 16 January 2017.
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