News and Updates



FACT Network Profile

January 2, 2024 - The FACT Network has posted a new profile on our sturgeon telemetry research - check it out!  FACT is a consortium of researchers in the southeastern US and beyond who share acoustic detection data.  When the sturgeon we tag in Georgia head elsewhere, we learn a lot about where they go from the information shared with us by other scientists in the FACT Network.  And through FACT, we can let them know when we detect their fish, too!

Senior Thesis Presentation

December 4, 2023 - Congratulations to Aalea Grimes, who presented her senior thesis research today! Aalea dug deep into the lab's mark-recapture data to estimate Atlantic Sturgeon growth rates in the Altamaha River.

New Publication

September 1, 2023 - We just published a new paper on Atlantic Sturgeon recruitment in Georgia - this paper was the result of years of work by many graduate and undergraduate students, and includes elements of several MS and undergraduate senior theses.  The objective of this study was to quantify recruitment of juvenile Atlantic sturgeon in the Savannah, Ogeechee, and Satilla Rivers. Because we used identical methods in 3 rivers simultaneously, we were able to directly compare recruitment among these populations with that of other populations observed in contemporaneous studies in other rivers. We conducted mark-recapture sampling during 2014–2017 and used Huggins closed population models to estimate annual recruitment. Because there are no historical data for comparison, we evaluated the 3 populations in terms of recruit abundance, variation, and consistency. The Savannah River annually had relatively large numbers of recruits (639–937 individuals). Fewer recruits were produced in the Ogeechee (27–57 individuals) and Satilla (51–134 individuals) Rivers; recruitment occurred in only some years in those rivers. Populations that produce few recruits or do not have regular recruitment may be experiencing bottlenecks preventing recovery.

MS Defense

August 20, 2023 - Congratulations to Mark D'Ercole on the successful defense of his thesis!  Mark's work, '“Flow Regime and Recruitment in Gulf Sturgeon in the Apalachicola River, Florida,” investigated several hypotheses about how river flow at different times of the year was related to annual recruitment of Gulf Sturgeon. Mark's committee consisted of Drs. Hamel and Hazelton, and Dr. Kaesar with the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

New Publication!

May 13, 2023 - A paper based on Michael Baker's MS thesis is about to be published in Endangered Species Research! In this study, we compared two modeling approaches to estimate recruitment of age-1 Atlantic Sturgeon and provide an updated index of abundance across more than a decade of sampling in the Altamaha River, Georgia. Both Huggins and VGAM models indicated similar yearly age-1 abundance estimates (Huggins: low of 163 in 2017 to high of 3839 in 2010; VGAM: 312 in 2020 to 4448 in 2010), but the VGAMs provided more direct interpretation for factors that might affect capture probability (e.g. sampling effort, temperature, fish length). Recruitment of age-1 Atlantic Sturgeon in the Altamaha River has remained relatively stable over the past decade. 

Update (July 6, 2023): Publication is now available.

MS Thesis Defense

March 27, 2023 - Congratulations to Max Kleinhans for successfully defending his Masters Thesis! His research focused on the Altamaha River, where he investigated the population dynamics of Shortnose Sturgeon and the environmental drivers of juvenile Atlantic Sturgeon Aggregation.  Max's committee members included Drs. Nate Nibbelink, Brian Irwin, and Seth Wenger.

New Publication

February 22, 2023 - Dr. Fox is a coauthor on a new paper looking at the genetics of Atlantic Sturgeon in the Ogeechee River. One particularly interesting finding was that of the two distinct genetic clusters of fish (likely fall- and spring-spawners), only one cluster was represented in offshore mixed aggregations of sturgeon.

Georgia AFS 2023

February 17, 2023 - We just returned from a great Georgia AFS conference on St. Simons Island!  MS students Mark D'Ercole and Max Kleinhans presented their thesis work on Gulf and Atlantic Sturgeon, and undergrad Teagan Walsh presented a poster on her project on Longnose Gar.  Max was awarded 3rd place student talk! UGA had a strong showing at the conference, and there were many excellent presentations from Warnell grad and undergrad students.

Southern Division AFS 2023

February 5, 2023 - MS students Mark D'Ercole and Max Kleinhans gave great presentations at the Sturgeon Symposium at the Southern Division AFS conference in Norfolk, VA.  Mark talked about his thesis research on about the effects of flow regime on recruitment in Gulf Sturgeon in the Apalachicola River, and Max presented on his thesis work on how climate change and water quality influence Atlantic Sturgeon aggregation in the Altamaha River.

Technician Katherine Brinson holding a Shortnose Sturgeon

Hiring Techs for Summer 2023

January 21, 2023 - The Fox Lab is looking to fill multiple fisheries technician positions for our summer 2022 research season.  Technicians will be based in Darien, GA and Port St. Joe, FL. Please see the posting for additional details.  Closes February 12.

Update: Technician positions filled for 2023.

Welcome New Graduate Students

January 9, 2023 - Three new students joined the lab this semester!  Alan Bond (PhD), Joey Nolan (MS), and Hunter Rider (MS) will be jointly advised by Dr. Fox and Dr. Hamel. Their projects will focus on Atlantic and Shortnose Sturgeon in the Savannah, Ogeechee, Altamaha, and Satilla rivers in Georgia

Gulf Sturgeon Workshop

December 8, 2022 - Mark D'Ercole did an excellent job presenting his research at the first in-person Gulf Sturgeon meeting since 2020!  

Research Featured in Warnell News

Fox Lab Goes to AFS in Spokane

August 26, 2022 - The lab just returned from our trip to the national AFS meeting in Spokane, WA.  MS students Mark D'Ercole and Max Kleinhans both gave excellent presentations about their research!  Lab alum Cortney Bunch was also at the meeting.  So much cool science at the conference!

New Publication

August 5, 2022 - A paper based on Brendan Dula's MS thesis has been accepted for publication!  Brendan documented the effects of 2018's near-direct hit by Hurricane Michael on the Gulf Sturgeon population in the Apalachicola River.

PhD Assistantship

May 16, 2022 - Drs. Adam Fox and Marty Hamel seek a PhD student to help lead a research team to assess populations of Atlantic and Shortnose Sturgeon in coastal rivers of Georgia.  Additional Details about the position can be found here.  Application deadline is July 1, 2022 - applications will be considered as they are received, so applicants are encouraged to submit materials as soon as possible.  Start date is negotiable, but the target dates for enrollment are August 2022 (fall semester) or January 2023 (spring semester). 

Adult and age-1 Atlantic Sturgeon

New Grant: Assessing Reproduction and Recruitment Dynamics of Atlantic and Shortnose Sturgeon

April 29, 2022 - The Fox Lab, in conjunction with the Hamel Lab and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, was awarded a 2022 Species Recovery Grant from NOAA to conduct sturgeon work in the Savannah, Ogeechee, Altamaha, and Satilla rivers in Georgia.  The specific objectives of this project are to (1) quantify Atlantic and Shortnose Sturgeon recruitment, and (2) determine natal river fidelity and spawning periodicity using a microchemistry approach.

A section of a pectoral fin spine from an Atlantic Sturgeon

New Publication on Shortnose Sturgeon Aging

February 9, 2022 - A paper based on Daniel Gragson's senior thesis project has just been published in Southeastern Naturalist!  Daniel looked at the pectoral fin rays of Shortnose Sturgeon in the Altamaha and Savannah rivers.

Fox lab members Max Kleinhans (L), Alaina Davis (C), Adam Fox (R)

Student Awards at Georgia AFS

February 3, 2022 - All of the Fox lab students did an outstanding job presenting at the 2022 conference of the Georgia chapter of the American Fisheries Society.  MS student Max Kleinhans was awarded 3rd place student presentation, and undergraduate Alaina Davis won 2nd place student presentation!

Technician Katherine Brinson holding a Shortnose Sturgeon

Hiring Techs for Summer 2022

December 27, 2021 - The Fox Lab is looking to fill multiple fisheries technician positions for our summer 2022 research season.  Technicians will be based in Darien, GA and Port St. Joe, FL. Please see the posting for additional details.  Closes February 12.

Update: Technician positions filled for 2022.

Andrew Marbury with age-1 Gulf Sturgeon

New Publication

October 19, 2021 - A paper on our Gulf Sturgeon work in the Apalachicola River from 2013-2018 has been accepted for publication! This paper encompasses much of the work done by Andrew Marbury and Nathaniel Hancock for their MS theses.


Update: Paper available from Fishery Bulletin here.

Michael Baker with an Atlantic Sturgeon

MS Thesis Defense

June 10, 2021 - Michael Baker successfully defended his Masters Thesis, 'Juvenile Atlantic Sturgeon in the Altamaha River: Refined recruitment estimation and investigating the effects of flow regime.'  Congratulations, Michael!  Michael's co-advisor was Dr. Brian Irwin of the USGS Georgia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit, and his committee members were Drs. Robert Bringolf and Cecil Jennings.

Brendan Dula with an age-1 Gulf Sturgeon

Thesis Defense

April 27, 2021 - Congratulations to Brendan Dula, who successfully defended his Masters Thesis, 'The effects of Hurricane Michael on annual recruitment, mortality, and migration of Gulf Sturgeon in the Apalachicola River, Florida.'  Brendan's co-advisor was Dr. Cecil Jennings, and his committee members were Drs. Robert Bringolf and Adam Kaeser (USFWS).

UGA Graduate TA Award

April, 2021 - MS Student Michael Baker received an Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award from UGA's Center for Teaching and learning.  This award recognizes the top 10% of teaching assistants demonstrating superior teaching skills while serving in the classroom or laboratory.

Senior Thesis Defense

April, 2021 - Undergraduate student Daniel Gragson completed his senior thesis and presented his work to the Warnell community.  His research focused on the comparison of first and second fin rays for use in aging Shortnose Sturgeon in Georgia.  Daniel also recently presented his work at the Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society's online 2021 conference.

Andrew Marbury with an adult Gulf Sturgeon

New Publication

February, 2021 - A paper by Sturgeon Lab alum Andrew Marbury has been accepted for publication:


Update: Available from the Journal of Applied Ichthyology here.

Student Award at WGSS 2021

February, 2021 - MS student Brendan Dula won 1st place fisheries presentation at the 2021 Warnell Graduate Student Symposium in Athens, GA. 

Student Awards at GA AFS

January, 2021 - MS student Brendan Dula won first place student paper at the 2021 Georgia AFS virtual conference.  His talk was titled "Effects of Hurricane Michael on annual recruitment, mortality, and behavior of Gulf Sturgeon in the Apalachicola River, Florida."

Brendan was also awarded the chapter's Ronnie J. Gilbert Scholarship, which is awarded to an outstanding student member of the chapter.

Gina Alvarez (L) with a Gag Grouper.  FWCC Biologist Dan Marotta (R) assisted with sampling

Thesis Defense

November 18, 2020 - Gina Alvarez successfully defended her Masters Thesis, 'Using video surveys to examine the effect of habitat on Gag occurrence .' Congratulations!  She was co-advised by Dr. Cecil Jennings, and committee members included Dr. Brian Irwin and Dave Gandy (FWCC).

Cortney Bunch with an adult Atlantic Sturgeon

Thesis Defense

November 9, 2020 - Congratulations to Cortney Bunch for the successful defense of her Masters Thesis, 'Using side-scan sonar to quantify. the spawning runs of Atlantic Sturgeon in the Altamaha River, Georgia.'  Cortney was co-advised by Dr. Cecil Jennings, and her committee included Drs. Richard Chandler and Adam Kaeser (USFWS).

New Publication

July, 2020 - Sturgeon Lab alum Evan Ingram put together a paper on Shortnose Sturgeon in Georgia:

Available from Fishery Bulletin here.

Sturgeon Symposium at SDAFS

February, 2020 - With Dr. Marty Hamel, Dr. Fox organized a symposium on "Sturgeon population dynamics: a compilation of techniques, tools, and research" at the Southern Divison AFS Meeting in Little Rock, AR.

Fox Lab grad students Gina Alvarez (L), Michael Baker (C), and Brendan Dula (R)

2020 Georgia AFS Awards

January, 2020 - Fox Lab students cleaned house at the 202 Georgia Chapter AFS conference.  MS student Michael Baker was awarded 1st place student paper, and MS student Brendan Dula was awarded 2nd place student paper.

Michael was also awarded the chapter's Ronnie J. Gilbert Scholarship, which is awarded to an outstanding student member.

Gina Alvarez received a certificate of appreciation from the chapter for her efforts as President of the UGA Student Sub-unit.

Student Award

June, 2019 - MS Student Cortney Bunch took home the award for 2nd place presentation at the UGA Graduate Students and Post-Docs in Research Symposium, for her talk "Using side-scan sonar to quantify spawning run size of Atlantic Sturgeon in Georgia."

Fox Lab members Gina Alvarez (L), Adam Fox (C), and Cat Chapman (R)

2019 GA AFS Student Awards

February, 2019 - Undergraduate Catlin Chapman Wells took home the first place student paper, and MS student Gina Alvarez won 2nd place student paper at the 2019 Georgia AFS conference. 

Student Awards at 2017 GA AFS

January, 2017 - BSFR student Hudman Evans won the best undergraduate presentation at 2017 Georgia AFS conference.   MS student Nathaniel Hancock also took home 3rd place presentation paper.