Date of this Version
2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
The middle Missouri River (MMR; Fort Randall Dam, SD to Gavins Point Dam, NE‐SD) is stocked with hatchery‐reared pallid sturgeon, Scaphirhynchus albus (Forbes and Richardson), from upper Missouri River broodstock to aid recovery of this federally endangered species. Emigration of these fish through Gavins Point Dam restores genetic connectivity that likely existed pre‐impoundment but could lead to outbreeding depression in the future. Recapture data of hatchery‐reared pallid sturgeon stocked in the MMR were evaluated to improve understanding of pallid sturgeon emigration. From 2004 to 2015, 219 emigrants were caught: 4 stocked at age ≥2 years and 215 stocked at age ≤1 year. Emigration of the 2001‐2007 year classes stocked at age 1 was a consistent phenomenon and appeared higher than emigration of year classes stocked at ages 2–3. Little evidence suggested emigration was associated with an unusually high‐water event in 2011. The annual emigration probability of individuals stocked at age 1 estimated from multi‐state mark–recapture models was 0.05 [95% confidence interval = 0.04–0.06] for fish ages ≥1 year. This study suggests that alterations to stocking practices (e.g. stocking age) may affect emigration rates and, therefore, connectivity among pallid sturgeon populations.