CERC Branch: Fort Peck Pallid Sturgeon Research Program

This research program, begun in 2002, involves the endangered pallid sturgeon in the Upper Missouri River between Fort Peck Dam in Montana and the headwaters of Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota where the long-term viability of the population is in jeopardy. The program is part of a monitoring and research program designed to examine the influence of proposed flow modifications from Fort Peck Dam on physical habitat and biological response of pallid sturgeon and other native fishes. 

Flow modifications from Fort Peck Dam were proposed in the Missouri River Biological Opinion with the goal of increasing discharge and water temperatures from Fort Peck Dam during late May and June. It is hypothesized that regulated flows from the dam coupled with a suppressed water temperature regime during the spring and early summer spawning period have failed to provide adequate spawning cues for pallid sturgeon. In addition, cold water releases from Fort Peck Dam have limited the amount of riverine habitat suitable for spawning.

The research program:
- Examines the influence of modified discharge releases from the Fort Peck Dam spillway on water temperature and turbidity
- Examines flow- and temperature-related movements and river use (e.g., Yellowstone, Missouri, Milk) of pallid sturgeon, blue suckers, paddlefish, and shovelnose sturgeon via telemetry
- Quantifies larval fish distribution and abundance, including young-of-year sturgeon
- Examines drift rate, drift behavior, and transport of larval sturgeon and food habits of potential piscivores
- Determines the location of and capture adult pallid sturgeon for spawning and propagation.

Partners: Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

In The News

  • Bypass channel designed to pallid specs
    Friday, September 30, 2016
  • Fish on the Line
    Thursday, October 11, 2012
  • Pallids in Purgatory
    Monday, September 17, 2012
  • Ancient Fish Gets Techno Boost
    Wednesday, August 17, 2011
    Tracking and monitoring larval and adult pallids in the Missouri is critical to understanding the species' historical decline and current status. But pallids live 15 feet beneath the surface of the Missouri, obscured by a sunless sweep of clouded current that stretches for several thousand miles to the river's confluence with the Mississippi. That's where DIDSON comes in.  Read More
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