Date of this Version
Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 26 (2010), 6–10; doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0426.2009.01356.x
Stocking is a commonly employed conservation strategy for endangered species such as the pallid sturgeon, Scaphirhynchus albus. However, decisions about when, where and at what size pallid sturgeon should be stocked are hindered because vulnerability of pallid sturgeon to fish predation is not known. The objective of this study was to evaluate the vulnerability of age-0 pallid sturgeon to predation by two Missouri River predators under different flow regimes, and in combination with alternative prey. To document vulnerability, age-0 pallid sturgeon (<100 mm) were offered to channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus and smallmouth bass Micropterus dolomieu in laboratory experiments. Selection of pallid sturgeon by both predators was measured by offering pallid sturgeon and an alternative prey, fathead minnows Pimephales promelas, in varying prey densities. Smallmouth bass consumed more age-0 pallid sturgeon (0.95 h−1) than did channel catfish (0.13 h−1), and predation rates did not differ between water velocities supporting sustained (0 m s−1) or prolonged swimming speeds (0.15 m s−1). Neither predator positively selected pallid sturgeon when alternative prey was available. Both predator species consumed more fathead minnows than pallid sturgeon across all prey density combinations. Results indicate that the vulnerability of age-0 pallid sturgeon to predation by channel catfish and smallmouth bass is low, especially in the presence of an alternative fish prey.