Recruitment of pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus) in the Lower Missouri River is low or nonexistent (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2007). The habitat requirements of pallid sturgeon early life stages (larval and juvenile) poorly understood and suitable habitat and prey availability may represent a potential bottleneck to species recovery. It has been hypothesized that a combination of flow regime and channel morphology, result in hydraulic habitat conditions that are not conducive to settling and retention of free embryos and larvae in suitable habitats, instead resulting in starvation in the thalweg. It is not clear that larvae being transported in the thalweg will starve unless they can settle into supportive, channel-margin habitats, or if instead they can transition to first feeding, find food, and grow to the point where they are mobile enough to seek habitats on their own. Ifpersistence in the thalweg results in starvation, then actions to implement more interception rearing complexes, in correct locations, may be indicated. Research is currently being conducted by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Oklahoma State University on age-0 Scaphirhynchus sturgeon captured in channel-marginal habitats in the Lower Missouri River. The study is examining the stomach contents and whole-body lipid content of age-0 sturgeon to determine if food availability is limiting, and whether or not sturgeon are in poor condition. This research requires baseline condition values and whole-body lipid concentrations of age-0 Scaphirhynchus sturgeon obtained at the point of starvation to provide context for lipid levels of field collected specimens. This work will utilize the more common and closely related shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus) as a comparative model for the endangered pallid sturgeon.
Objectives: Propagate, hatch, and rear shovelnose sturgeon for baseline lipid analysis to be performed by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Oklahoma State University.