Date of this Version
North American Journal of Fisheries Management 30:671–678, 2010; DOI: 10.1577/M09-151.1
The population of pallid sturgeon Scaphirhynchus albus in the lower Missouri River between Gavins Point Dam (river kilometer [rkm] 1,305.2) and the confluence with the Mississippi River (rkm 0.0) remains imperiled, little to no natural recruitment occurring. Artificial propagation and subsequent population augmentation (i.e., stocking) may be the only viable option for maintaining pallid sturgeon populations in the lower Missouri River in the near term. Because relatively little is known about the ability of hatchery-reared pallid sturgeon to survive, the objective of this study was to quantify survival estimates for hatchery-reared pallid sturgeon stocked into the lower Missouri River. We used stock–recapture data collected from 1994 to 2008 to derive survival estimates based on the Cormack–Jolly–Seber model within program MARK. Since 1994, a total of 78,244 hatchery-reared pallid sturgeon have been released and 1% of these have been recaptured. Recapture numbers by size at stocking were as follows: 48 age 0, 730 age 1, and 38 older than age 1. Stocked age-0 hatchery-reared pallid sturgeon had an estimated apparent survival rate of 0.051 (SE = 0.008), compared with 0.686 (SE=0.117) for age-1 fish and 0.922 (SE=0.015) for fish older than age 1. Our analysis confirms that hatchery-reared pallid sturgeon can survive in the wild and contribute to the overall population of this species. These estimates should provide critical information for decisions regarding stocking strategies within the lower Missouri River and enable biologists to estimate the number of stocked pallid sturgeon that reach sexual maturity.