Gary Anderson

Gary Anderson

Department of Biological Sciences
University of Manitoba

Chair title

NSERC/Manitoba Hydro Industrial Research Chair in Conservation Aquaculture of Lake Sturgeon, Acipenser Fulvescens

Chair program

Industrial Research Chairs program


Associate Chairholder since 2015


The NSERC/Manitoba Hydro Associate Industrial Research Chair in Conservation Aquaculture of Lake Sturgeon focuses on development of best practices and procedures in lake sturgeon aquaculture and monitoring that will lead to the conservation of this culturally iconic but vulnerable species. The lake sturgeon is considered threatened or endangered across much of its North American range.

Hydroelectricity is perhaps one of the cleanest and most sustainable energy sources available today, and Manitoba Hydro is an industry leader. However, while there is a clear need for sustainable energy production, it comes at an environmental cost with disruption to fish habitat and corridors for fish migration. Therefore, legislation requires mitigation strategies to be in place for the protection of fish and fisheries as new and existing hydroelectric facilities are developed. With the support of provincial, First Nation and federal bodies, Manitoba Hydro has used conservation aquaculture and stock enhancement as a mitigative strategy to protect and sustain threatened or endangered populations of lake sturgeon throughout Manitoba.

Dr. Anderson has been working with Manitoba Hydro for more than 15 years on lake sturgeon physiology and ecology. Research conducted by students and postdoctoral fellows in his research program has determined the impact of the rearing environment on the stress response, metabolism and growth; examined ecology of early life history stages; and described gene flow in lake sturgeon populations fragmented by hydroelectric generating stations.

Research in the first five years of this Chair demonstrated that all measured biological traits in lake sturgeon were influenced to a greater or lesser extent by the rearing environment, with some having longer term negative consequences on the fish. Research in this renewal period will further examine environment by phenotype interactions with a focus on the development of the gastrointestinal tract and diet formulations to promote growth during early life history.

Health of wild caught broodstock is a second focus of the research, which will further develop the use of elemental signatures deposited in fin rays to determine spawning periodicity in adult lake sturgeon, allowing for improved modelling toward better predictive measures of spawning population strength. This will be coupled with development of eDNA tools to assess spawning strength in different lake sturgeon populations throughout Manitoba.

Genetic resources will also be developed under this Chair with the proposed genome sequencing of lake sturgeon, a task that is complicated by the polyploid nature of the sturgeon genome. Once assembled and annotated, this will be a valuable resource for all lake sturgeon and, indeed, sturgeon researchers globally.

This research continues to facilitate environmental licensing of Manitoba Hydro generating stations by contributing to the knowledge required for assessment of environmental impacts and development of mitigation measures related to lake sturgeon. The research will enhance Manitoba Hydro’s position as a global leader in the responsible use of water as a much-needed sustainable resource and will lead to development of conservation aquaculture strategies for the protection of all species of sturgeon.


  • Manitoba Hydro

Contact information

Department of Biological Sciences
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba



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