Obtaining food following the transition from endogenous to exogenous feeding and during the first year of life is a critical event that strongly influences growth and survival of young-of-year fishes. For shovelnose sturgeon Scaphirhynchus platorynchus, limited information is available on food habits during the first year of life. The objective of this study was to quantify diet components of shovelnose sturgeon during the transition from endogenous to exogenous feeding and during the young-of-year life stage in the North Dakota and Montana portions of the Missouri River. Young-of-year shovelnose sturgeon were sampled between early August and early September 2003. Shovelnose sturgeon initiated exogenous feeding by 16 mm, and individuals 16-140 mm fed exclusively on two macroinvertebrate orders (Diptera and Ephemeroptera). Young-of-year shovelnose sturgeon exhibited an apparently high feeding success as 99 of 100 individuals contained food in the gut. The number of organisms in the gut increased exponentially with fish length for larval Diptera (r2 = 0.73, P < 0.0001) and linearly (r2 = 0.12, P = 0.0006) for larval Ephemeroptera, but the number of Diptera pupae in the gut was not significantly related (P = 0.55) to length of young-of-year shovelnose sturgeon. The length of ingested prey was linearly related to fish length for Diptera larvae (r2 = 0.20, P = 0.002), whereas the relationship between lengths of ingested Ephemeroptera larvae and lengths of young-of-year shovelnose sturgeon was best described by a power function (r2 = 0.50, P < 0.0001). These results provide the first quantification of feeding dynamics for young-of-year shovelnose sturgeon in a natural river environment. ?? 2007 Blackwell Verlag.
Additional publication details
Diet composition of larval and young-of-year shovelnose sturgeon in the Upper Missouri River