ESR 16:225-234 (2012)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00408

Habitat and prey availability attributes associated with juvenile and early adult pallid sturgeon occurrence in the Missouri River, USA

Bryan D. Spindler1,5, Steven R. Chipps1,*, Robert A. Klumb1,2, Brian D. S. Graeb1,3, Michael C. Wimberly1,4 

1US Geological Survey, South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, South Dakota State University, Brookings, South Dakota 57007, USA
2US Fish and Wildlife Service, Great Plains Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, Pierre, South Dakota 57501, USA
3Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, South Dakota State University, Brookings, South Dakota 57007, USA
4Geographic Information Science Center of Excellence, Wecota Hall-506B, South Dakota State University, Brookings, South Dakota 57007, USA
5Present address: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, St. Paul, Minnesota 55155, USA

ABSTRACT: The pallid sturgeon Scaphirhynchus albus is a federally endangered species native to the Missouri and lower Mississippi Rivers, USA. As part of recovery efforts, over 360000 pallid sturgeon have been stocked into the Missouri River since 1994, and a standardized, long-term monitoring program was initiated in 2003. Understanding the distribution and habitat requirements of juvenile and early adult pallid sturgeon (fork length <720 mm, age <10 yr) is an important goal of the monitoring and recovery programs. In this study, we collected information on habitat characteristics and prey availability from the upper Missouri River along the Nebraska-South Dakota border and compared these attributes between capture (present) and non-capture (absent) locations (N = 59). To evaluate the relative influence of habitat and prey availability on pallid sturgeon occurrence, we examined several candidate models using an information-theoretic approach. A prey availability model had the most support and included site-specific information on Diptera and Ephemeroptera abundance. A habitat-based model showed that juveniles and early adults were found in relatively deeper water and avoided areas where bottom velocities were greater than 1.2 m s−1. Although not as well supported as the prey-effects model (evidence ratio = 6.4), habitat features also provided a plausible model for predicting occurrence. The models developed here could be used to evaluate pallid sturgeon habitat potential in the Missouri River basin and help guide future monitoring and conservation management of this endangered species.


KEY WORDS: Pallid sturgeon · Habitat model · Monitoring · Prey availability · Habitat selection


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Cite this article as: Spindler BD, Chipps SR, Klumb RA, Graeb BDS, Wimberly MC (2012) Habitat and prey availability attributes associated with juvenile and early adult pallid sturgeon occurrence in the Missouri River, USA. Endang Species Res 16:225-234. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00408

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