Migrations and swimming capabilities of endangered pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus) to guide passage designs in the fragmented Yellowstone River

Restoration Ecology
By: , and 

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Abstract

Fragmentation of the Yellowstone River is hypothesized to preclude recruitment of endangered Scaphirhynchus albus (pallid sturgeon) by impeding upstream spawning migrations and access to upstream spawning areas, thereby limiting the length of free-flowing river required for survival of early life stages. Building on this hypothesis, the reach of the Yellowstone River affected by Intake Diversion Dam (IDD) is targeted for modification. Structures including a rock ramp and by-pass channel have been proposed as restoration alternatives to facilitate passage. Limited information on migrations and swimming capabilities of pallid sturgeon is available to guide engineering design specifications for the proposed structures. Migration behavior, pathways (channel routes used during migrations), and swimming capabilities of free-ranging wild adult pallid sturgeon were examined using radiotelemetry, and complemented with hydraulic data obtained along the migration pathways. Migrations of 12–26% of the telemetered pallid sturgeon population persisted to IDD, but upstream passage over the dam was not detected. Observed migration pathways occurred primarily through main channel habitats; however, migrations through side channels up to 3.9 km in length were documented. The majority of pallid sturgeon used depths of 2.2–3.4 m and mean water velocities of 0.89–1.83 m/s while migrating. Results provide inferences on depths, velocities, and habitat heterogeneity of reaches successfully negotiated by pallid sturgeon that may be used to guide designs for structures facilitating passage at IDD. Passage will provide connectivity to potential upstream spawning areas on the Yellowstone River, thereby increasing the likelihood of recruitment for this endangered species.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Migrations and swimming capabilities of endangered pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus) to guide passage designs in the fragmented Yellowstone River
Series title Restoration Ecology
DOI 10.1111/rec.12161
Volume 23
Issue 2
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Columbia Environmental Research Center
Description 10 p.
First page 186
Last page 195
Country United States
State Montana
Other Geospatial Yellowstone River
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N