A Kettle of Fish

In the late fall or at the end of winter of previous seasons, Comprehensive Sturgeon Research Project (CSRP) biologists would send boats out into the field to seek out a few, rare pallid sturgeon females to implant with transmitters in hopes of tracking them to their spawning locations.  This has been our dominant approach to characterizing where and when spawning is occurring.  Beginning in 2014 the project focus has shifted slightly towards longer-term science objectives.  In addition to tracking reproductive females, biologists are also emphasizing recapturing and retagging as many telemetered pallid sturgeon as possible to reimplant them with tags and fresh batteries in hopes of maintaining a population of tagged pallid sturgeon that can be monitored through several reproductive cycles.  Biologists also hope to increase the number of tagged males in the study population to help identify possible aggregation areas and to answer the long-standing question of which sex ultimately chooses where spawning occurs.

Since recapture efforts began in the fall of 2013, CSRP crews have recaptured more than 15 telemetered pallid sturgeon and identified three females (PLS11-019, PLS10-029, and PLS12-002) and one male (PLS10-032) pallid sturgeon nearing spawning condition.  Each of these fish has a long history with the CSRP and researchers will be particularly interested in their movements and behavior.  At the end of April, more than two dozen additional pallid sturgeon collected during the annual pallid sturgeon broodstock collection efforts will be implanted with transmitters and added to the study population.   During 2014, telemetry studies of habitat use and spawning will be augmented by laboratory studies of spawning, egg hatch, and free embryo dispersal to examine further the factors that may be limiting survival and recruitment of young sturgeon in the river.

With contribution from Aaron DeLonay

CSRP Biologist Sabrina Davenport prepares to release a reproductive female pallid sturgeon.

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