Title: North American Burbot Project
Student: Nathan Jensen
Department: Fish & Wildlife Resources
Burbot (Lota lota maculosa) are the only freshwater member of the Cod family Gadidae and native to the Kootenai River in Idaho and Montana USA and BC Canada. In the past, KR burbot sustained recreational, commercial, and sustenance fisheries. Over the last half century populations declined due to anthropogenic influences that changed the KR ecosystems. The most recent population estimates of KR burbot total less than 50. In 2003 KR burbot were denied federal listing as an endangered species. They are currently considered a species of concern in Idaho and Montana and red listed in BC. Although KR burbot were not listed, a multi-agency team of stakeholders consisting of international, tribal, state, and local governments and non-government entities, developed a multifaceted conservation recovery plan with the goal to revitalize the KR burbot population. Development of aquaculture techniques was included in this plan. In 2004, a UI graduate student (MS) project was funded by the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho and focused on developing fundamental aquaculture techniques that could be used as a basis for developing a future conservation breeding program. This primary research successfully developed spawning, semen cryopreservation, egg incubation and larval feeding methods. Following the successful developments, additional funding support was awarded by the KTOI and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to continue aquaculture technique development. Currently, two graduate student (MS) projects are being funded; one with support by KTOI and the other supported by the USFWS. Ongoing research includes improving egg survival during incubation by controlling fungus using fungicides, evaluating the susceptibility of burbot juveniles to specific viral and bacterial pathogens and development and evaluation of extensive larval and juvenile rearing techniques and systems.
For more information, email the PI: Dr. Kenneth Cain