Date of this Version
Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences 34 (2014), 16–26
The Shovelnose Sturgeon Scaphirhynchus platorynchus remains the most abundant riverine sturgeon species in North American despite the anthropogenic modifications that have occurred throughout their historic range; however, their populations have declined throughout Nebraska since the construction of Fort Randall and Gavins Point Dams. Therefore, the objective of this study was to present the current status of Shovelnose Sturgeon in the Missouri River along Nebraska’s border. Data was acquired from 2003 to 2012 from all reaches of the Missouri River along Nebraska’s eastern border. Catch rates of Shovelnose Sturgeon increased in a downstream trend and were highest in the reach below the Missouri and Platte River confluence. Based on gill net samples which collected the majority (39%) of Shovelnose Sturgeon, annual catch per unit efforts indicate a declining population above Gavins Point Dam and a stable population below in the open Missouri River. The length frequency distributions of Shovelnose Sturgeon collected were similar across all reaches with the exception of those captured between Fort Randall and the headwaters of Lewis and Clark Lake which were significantly larger than fish captured below the Platte River confluence. Although no age-0 Shovelnose Sturgeon were captured in the unchannelized reaches, age-0 abundance increased in a downstream trend throughout the channelized reaches. Preferred-sized fish (510-640 mm, N = 53,741) were the most common size category of Shovelnose Sturgeon captured throughout all reaches and across all years followed by quality-sized (380-510 mm, N = 12,089) and memorable-sized (640-810 mm, N = 4,569) fish. Our data concludes the overall population of Shovelnose Sturgeon above Gavins Point Dam appears to be slightly declining while the population in the open, lower river appears to be stable.
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