Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
Larvae provide first evidence of successful reproduction by pallid sturgeon, Scaphirhynchus albus, in the Mississippi River
Hrabik, R. A., Herzog, D. P., Ostendorf, D. E., and Petersen, M. D., 2007, Larvae provide first evidence of successful reproduction by pallid sturgeon, Scaphirhynchus albus, in the Mississippi River: Journal of Applied Ichthyology, v. 23, no. 4, p 436-443.
The pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus) was not described until 1905, when it was commonly caught by commercial fishers. This species began to decline in the early 1900s presumably because of overharvest and habitat degradation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed S. albus as an endangered species in 1990. Because S. albus live in deep, turbid rivers that are difficult to sample, very little is known about its reproductive timing and spawning habitat. The act of spawning has never been observed in nature. Captures of wild young S. albus verifying natural reproduction are rare, the last being a 4-year-old fish taken in 1978. In this paper, we describe the first collection of a larval S. albus from the wild and subsequent larval collections in the Mississippi River from 1998 to 2000 using a modified slingshot balloon trawl (the Missouri Trawl) designed to capture small fishes in deep, turbulent rivers. We captured larval Scaphirhynchus spp., including verified S. albus, in association with island habitats often in heavy detritus, especially at downstream tips. We postulate that Scaphirhynchus spp. spawned at the heads of islands upstream from where we collected larvae, but we cannot be certain. The capture of larval S. albus verifies reproduction possibly from the lower Missouri River to the upper and lower Mississippi River. However, we found no evidence of recruitment of S. albus from 1998 to 2000 as we were unable to capture juveniles after 374 trawl hauls that captured over 21 735 fish.