Volume 30, Issue 3 p. 767-775
Article

Water Temperature and River Stage Influence Mortality and Abundance of Naturally Occurring Mississippi River Scaphirhynchus Sturgeon

Quinton E. Phelps

Corresponding Author

Quinton E. Phelps

Fisheries and Illinois Aquaculture Center, Department of Zoology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, 62901 USA

Corresponding author: [email protected]Search for more papers by this author
Sara J. Tripp

Sara J. Tripp

Fisheries and Illinois Aquaculture Center, Department of Zoology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, 62901 USA

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William D. Hintz

William D. Hintz

Fisheries and Illinois Aquaculture Center, Department of Zoology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, 62901 USA

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James E. Garvey

James E. Garvey

Fisheries and Illinois Aquaculture Center, Department of Zoology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, 62901 USA

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David P. Herzog

David P. Herzog

Missouri Department of Conservation, Open Rivers and Wetlands Field Station, 3815 East Jackson Boulevard, Jackson, Missouri, 63755 USA

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David E. Ostendorf

David E. Ostendorf

Missouri Department of Conservation, Open Rivers and Wetlands Field Station, 3815 East Jackson Boulevard, Jackson, Missouri, 63755 USA

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Joseph W. Ridings

Joseph W. Ridings

Missouri Department of Conservation, Open Rivers and Wetlands Field Station, 3815 East Jackson Boulevard, Jackson, Missouri, 63755 USA

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Jason W. Crites

Jason W. Crites

Missouri Department of Conservation, Open Rivers and Wetlands Field Station, 3815 East Jackson Boulevard, Jackson, Missouri, 63755 USA

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Robert A. Hrabik

Robert A. Hrabik

Missouri Department of Conservation, Open Rivers and Wetlands Field Station, 3815 East Jackson Boulevard, Jackson, Missouri, 63755 USA

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First published: 08 January 2011
Citations: 23

Abstract

Several studies have investigated the demographics of shovelnose sturgeon Scaphirhynchus platorynchus and pallid sturgeon S. albus in the Mississippi River through assessment of adult populations; however, comparatively few studies have examined the early life history of these species. Here, we describe a comprehensive 4-year study that examined the effects of water temperature and river stage on the mortality, abundance, hatch timing, and growth rates of age-0 Scaphirhynchus spp. sturgeon in the middle Mississippi River. We trawled island areas every 7–10 d from April to August 2004–2007. We captured 1,256 individuals ranging from 10 to 193 mm total length over the 4-year study. Mean age-0 sturgeon growth rates ranged from 1.42 to 1.50 mm/d over the 4 years; however, growth rates did not differ among years. Individuals hatched over a 25–65-d period, and peak hatch dates were between 10 and 20 May in all years. Moreover, hatch timing possibly coincided with optimum spawning temperatures of 17–20°C and an increase in river stage. Abundance appeared to be regulated by river stage; longer durations of high water were related to higher relative abundance. Furthermore, mortality increased with the number of days on which water temperature exceeded 28°C. Based on these data, management strategies may need to ensure sturgeon hatching success and subsequent survival through optimizing hydrologic and thermal regimes that occur during the early life stage.