Intensive management of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers has resulted in dramatic physical changes to these rivers. These changes have been implicated as causative agents in the decline of pallid sturgeon. The pallid sturgeon, federally listed as endangered, is endemic to the turbid waters of the Missouri River and the Lower Mississippi River. The sympatric shovelnose sturgeon historically was more common and widespread than the pallid sturgeon. Habitat alteration, river regulation, pollution, and over-harvest have resulted in the now predictable patterns of decline and localized extirpation of sturgeon across species and geographic areas. Symptomatic of this generalized pattern of decline is poor reproductive success, and low or no recruitment of wild juveniles to the adult population. The purpose of this report is to introduce a conceptual life-history model of the factors that affect reproduction, growth, and survival of shovelnose and pallid sturgeons. The conceptual model provided here was developed to organize the understanding about the complex life history of Scaphirhynchus sturgeons. It was designed to be used for communication, planning, and to provide the structure for a population-forecasting model. These models are intended to be dynamic and responsive to new information and changes in river management, thereby providing scientists, stakeholders, and managers with ways to improve understanding of the effects of management actions on the ecological requirements of Scaphirhynchus sturgeons. As new scientific knowledge becomes available, it could be included in the model in many ways at various integration levels.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
A Conceptual Life-History Model for Pallid and Shovelnose Sturgeon