The Order of Acipenser is presented by NASPS to an individual or individuals for their outstanding contributions to the conservation, recovery, and/or management of sturgeon or paddlefish in North America. Past recipients of the award are Dr. Serge Doroshov (2009), Dr. Ron Bruch (2015), and Mike Parsley (2016). In 2017, NASPS accepted nominations for the award and is pleased to announce that we have awarded two very deserving individuals the Order of Acipenser. The 2017 award recipients are Dr. Tim King and Dr. Dennis Scarnecchia. Congratulations to both of these individuals, and on behalf of the NASPS membership, we thank them for their dedication and efforts towards sturgeon and paddlefish recovery. The recipients will be honored at the annual NASPS 2018 meeting or at another appropriate meeting.
Dr. Serge Doroshov-2009
As a one of the first scientists in North America to lead the effort to conduct research on North American sturgeon for rehabilitation, management, and aquaculture, Dr. Doroshov has made significant scientific contributions to sturgeon biology, and done groundbreaking research on sturgeon reproduction that had a critical impact on the development of the commercial sturgeon aquaculture industry in the United States. He is one of the founding members of the World Sturgeon Conservation Society and the North American Chapter of WSCS. He co-chaired the first International Sturgeon Symposium held in North America; authored numerous scientific papers and books; mentored scores of undergraduate to post-doctorate students who in turn have become successful scientists; and explored diverse scientific interests that spanned both marine and freshwater species.
His accomplishments have influenced and inspired countless scientists, students and friends. His courage, intelligence, integrity, generosity, graciousness, warmth, wit, and zest for life have enriched the lives of many.
Dr. Ronald Bruch-2015
Dr. Ron Bruch has been inspirational and a leader for the formation and development of the North American Sturgeon and Paddlefish Society. The idea to create a North American Chapter was spawned by Ron and a Canadian colleague, Tim Haxton, in 2008. As a result of his hard work, on August 19, 2008, the foundation committee members which included Tim Haxton, Dave Lane, Ken Sulak, Ed Black, Boyd Kynard, Larry Hildebrand, Peter Allen and Stephan Peake had their inaugural meeting in Ottawa, Canada along with Harald Rosenthal, the WSCS president, to kick off the society. This was done in conjunction with a well-attended symposium on sturgeon at the AFS conference. Over 150 members enrolled the first year primarily as a result of the kick-off in Ottawa. This initiated annual conferences alternating between private venues and ‘piggy backing’ with AFS. Ron was instrumental with the sturgeon symposium the following year at AFS in Nashville that culminated in 2½ days of talks, making sturgeon one of the most represented species at the conference. The third annual conference was held at Chico Hot Springs, Montana representing NAC’s first solo conference, and was attended by 140 people with 40 oral presentations. The Montana conference spawned a lot of interest in the society, however, it identified several cracks in remaining a North American Chapter, primarily around legal issues with the society’s by-laws. Ron was successful at the meeting to initiate a movement to become an independent society while remaining closely linked with the World Sturgeon Conservation Society. After a year of hard work by Ron and the executive committee, the North American Sturgeon and Paddlefish Society was established at the Nanaimo, BC conference in 2011. The NASPS became an affiliate of the World Sturgeon Conservation Society as it represented many of their values, but became a distinct, independent society. The NASPS met again in 2012 at AFS in St. Paul where Ron’s position as president was validated by the society’s first election. Under Ron’s leadership, NASPS continued a great relationship with WSCS and were very instrumental in the success of the 7th International Symposium on Sturgeon, a WSCS sanctioned conference, held in 2013 in Nanaimo, BC. This represented the first time NASPS executive board members had a chance to meet with WSCS board members solidifying their relationship and charted a course for sturgeon protection globally. His vision and efforts were instrumental in the formation and success of the NASPS for which the society will be forever indebted.
Mike Parsley has studied several sturgeon species throughout his career as a USGS biologist, but he is best known for his contributions to white sturgeon biology, management, and recovery. In the research conducted by Mike over the past 30 years, he has compiled a significant amount of data and learnings about Columbia River white sturgeon, including where and under what conditions they spawn, describing important factors in development during early life stages, describing their diet, conducting predation studies, describing detailed movements with telemetry, designing large scale habitat restoration, and fish passage. Not only has Mike’s research been critical in guiding many of the recovery actions underway, he and his colleagues’ work has established many of the techniques used in the field today (e.g. telemetry arrays, egg collection mats). Mike has been a leader in both management and recovery actions for sturgeon in North America. He is a member of multiple recovery teams including the Upper Columbia River White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative Technical Working Group, the Kootenai River White Sturgeon Recovery Team, the Green Sturgeon Recovery Team and is asked to join in California Sturgeon Project Work Team meetings. He is also a leading expert on sturgeon passage and has presented at workshops and meetings both nationally and internationally. All of these working groups have progressed over the years from the foundational knowledge that Mike has generated throughout his career.
Dr. Tim King-2017
Dr. King contributed significantly to the conservation, recovery, and management of Atlantic Sturgeon and Shortnose Sturgeon. He is considered one of the founding fathers of sturgeon genetics with regard to these species. He developed markers which show relatedness between sturgeon populations and species and probable rates of genetic exchange between groups. Dr. King provided the genetic information necessary to identify five distinct population segments of Atlantic Sturgeon during the ESA status review in 2006, which assisted NOAA Fisheries when listing the species in 2012. He was constantly on the cutting edge of new developments and technology related to genetic analyses and was always willing to explain the analyses and results to non-geneticists in a way that was understandable. Dr. King passed away in the fall of 2016. We are sorry to have lost such a great researcher and person.
Dr. Dennis Scarnecchia-2017
Dr. Scarnecchia has contributed significantly to the conservation, management, and understanding of the life history of paddlefish and sturgeon. He has been a Professor of Fish and Wildlife Resources at the University of Idaho since 1990. He has led and collaborated on numerous Acipenser research endeavors and played an invaluable role in management efforts for the species. Dr. Scarnecchia has served as an active and important advisor for the Mississippi Interstate Cooperative Resource Association (Paddlefish and Sturgeon Subcommittee) coordinating efforts for inter-jurisdictional management and conservation of paddlefish. He developed and has guided the state management of paddlefish in Montana, North Dakota, and Oklahoma and is currently assisting eight commercial paddlefish harvest states in developing consistent stock assessment data collection procedures and collaborative state harvest management frameworks in order to conserve the species with sustainable commercial harvest.