Date of this Version
Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences 34 (2014), 3–15.
Anthropogenic alterations to the Missouri River have placed the Pallid Sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus) population in jeopardy and contributed to their listing as an endangered species. Pallid sturgeon were always less common than the sympatric Shovelnose Sturgeon (S. platorynchus); however, Pallid Sturgeon seemed to be more affected by river alterations as the river sturgeon ratio has become more skewed towards Shovelnose Sturgeon. Shortly after listing, population augmentation with hatchery produced Pallid Sturgeon began to supplement the diminishing wild population. Therefore, the objective of this study was to present the current population status of the Pallid Sturgeon in the Missouri River along Nebraska’s border. Moving upstream along Nebraska’s eastern border the population of wild Pallid Sturgeon declines and appears very minimal to non-existent upstream of Gavins Point Dam. The wild Pallid Sturgeon population below Gavins Point Dam appears unchanged over the past decade. Hatchery supplementation has stocked almost 12,000 hatchery-reared Pallid Sturgeon above Gavins Point Dam and over 135,000 below, these hatchery-reared fish are surviving and contributing to the overall population throughout all reaches as the capture frequency has increased annually. Currently, the Pallid Sturgeon population consists primarily of stock (66%) and quality- sized (22%) fish, most of which are of hatchery origin. Mean relative condition of quality and preferred-size Pallid Sturgeon varied spatially and temporally. As the Pallid Sturgeon population increases several population recruitment obstacles still exist. Until the bottleneck preventing natural recruitment is lessened, continued listing of the Pallid Sturgeon as an endangered species is critical to drive river management and restoration efforts which are likely to influence species recovery.