Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



North American Journal of Fisheries Management 32:159–166, 2012; DOI: 10.1080/02755947.2012.661388


Copyright American Fisheries Society 2012


The population size of pallid sturgeon Scaphirhynchus albus is currently unknown throughout much of the Missouri River. Listed as federally endangered in 1990, the pallid sturgeon remains one of the rarest fishes in the Missouri and Mississippi River basins, and little to no natural recruitment occurs. Artificial population supplementation via a hatchery propagation program was initiated, necessitating the collection of sexually mature pallid sturgeon. Therefore, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission maintained an intensive broodstock collection and mark– recapture effort from 2008 to 2010 to capture reproductively ready adults for the propagation program. Coordinated crews fished baited trotlines from the confluence of the Platte and Missouri rivers at river kilometer (rkm) 957.6 to a point about 80.5 rkm downstream. A total of 438 pallid sturgeon were captured, which amounts to a 7.8% recapture rate. The objectives of the study were to (1) use these data to estimate the annual population sizes of wild-origin and hatchery-reared pallid sturgeon within the above-mentioned 80.5-rkm reach of the lower Missouri River and (2) compare current population levels with the Pallid Sturgeon Recovery Team’s population objective. We used the mark–recapture data in a robust-design analysis to derive population estimates and annual survival, capture, and temporary emigration rates. The annual population estimate for wild pallid sturgeon varied from 5.4 to 8.9 fish/rkm, whereas the estimate for known hatchery-reared fish varied from 28.6 to 32.3 fish/rkm. The robust-design approach to our analysis resulted in useful estimates of population size and other variables important to quantifying species recovery and management targets; the approach may be suitable for other fisheries management data sets.