Observations on the identification of larval and juvenile Scaphirhynchus spp. in the lower Mississippi River

Southeastern Naturalist
By: , and 



Scaphirhynchus albus (Pallid Sturgeon) and S. platorynchus (Shovelnose Sturgeon) are sympatric and not uncommon in the lower Mississippi River from the confluence of the Ohio River to the Gulf of Mexico, and in its distributary, the Atchafalaya River. Reports of sturgeon larvae have been rare in the Mississippi River but have been increasing with more effective collection methods. A suite of characters identified in hatchery-reared larval Pallid Sturgeon and Shovelnose Sturgeon from the Yellowstone and upper Missouri rivers has been used to distinguish larval Scaphirhynchus spp. In the Mississippi River; however, a large proportion of wild Scaphirhynchus spp. larvae are intermediate in these characters and have been identified by some as hybridized Pallid Sturgeon and Shovelnose Sturgeon. We applied three diagnostic characters developed from Missouri River sturgeon larvae to hatchery-reared progeny of Atchafalaya River Pallid Sturgeon and found them inadequate to identify most of the known Pallid sturgeon larvae. Additionally, fewer than 10% of a large sample of wild Scaphirhynchusspp. larvae from the lower Mississippi River conformed to either Pallid Sturgeon or Shovelnose Sturgeon at two or more of the characters. We also found a small mouth width relative to head width and a concave forward barbel position may be useful for the identification of 30% or more Scaphirhynchus spp. larvae and postlarval young-of-year as Shovelnose Sturgeon. Established adult character indices and diagnostic measurement proportionalities also failed to correctly identify any hatchery-reared Pallid Sturgeon juveniles recaptured 6–7 years following their release.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Observations on the identification of larval and juvenile Scaphirhynchus spp. in the lower Mississippi River
Series title Southeastern Naturalist
DOI 10.1656/058.012.0202
Volume 12
Issue 2
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher Eagle Hill Institute
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 16 p.
First page 251
Last page 266
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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