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Columbia FRO Completes Fish Community Sampling on Missouri River
Midwest Region, October 31, 2006
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Columbia FRO biologist, Andrew Plauck, with a large blue sucker captured in October while drifting trammel nets on the Missouri River. 
- FWS photo
Columbia FRO biologist, Andrew Plauck, with a large blue sucker captured in October while drifting trammel nets on the Missouri River.

- FWS photo

- Photo Credit: n/a

Columbia FRO recently completed the 2006 fish community season sampling for the Pallid Sturgeon Population Assessment and Associated Fish Community Monitoring Program.  Following a standardized sampling protocol, Columbia FRO sampled the lower 250 miles of the Missouri River in a collaborative effort with other agencies throughout the Missouri River Basin to monitor and describe the population characteristics of the federally endangered pallid sturgeon and associated native river fishes.

 

Throughout the last three months, field crews from Columbia FRO maintained a rigorous sampling schedule.  Twenty four randomly selected bends on the lower Missouri River were sampled during the summer months.  Nearly 300 trawls were deployed, with tows ranging from 75 to 400 meters. 

 

The population assessment team employed a new 4 mm mesh trawl this year in an attempt to capture more young of the year sturgeon and other small fish.  This small mesh trawl was used along with the 38 mm mesh trawl to sample benthic fishes in sizes ranging from less than a half inch to well over four feet!  In addition to trawls, nearly 200 trammel net drifts captured fish such as shovelnose sturgeon, blue suckers, and small catfish. 

 

Over 190 small trap-nets (mini-fyke nets) were deployed to catch small fish which inhabit shallow sand and mud bars.  This sampling protocol is designed to target pallid sturgeon along with a select group of native river fishes, which include certain chub species that are a known food fish for the federally endangered pallid sturgeon.

 

The end of the fish community season also marked the end of the 2006 sampling year.  Overall sampling effort increased in 2006 with a net gain of one new sampling gear.  Seine nets were eliminated from the standardized sampling protocol after the 2005 sampling year because they were found to be redundant with existing gear, however, two new gears were added in 2006; a 4 mm small mesh otter trawl and a push otter trawl. 

 

This was a test year for the new gear and, because of their success, it is expected that they will be adopted as standard gear for the 2007 sampling year. Although overall effort increased since the 2005 sampling year, Columbia FRO biologists collected far fewer pallid sturgeon in 2006 with a total catch of 21, versus 44 in 2005.

 

Recovery of the endangered pallid sturgeon is the main goal of the Pallid Sturgeon Population Assessment and Associated Fish Community Monitoring Program on the Missouri River.  Data collected by Columbia FRO and other agencies in the basin will be used to determine stocking numbers and locations as well as other population parameters of the wild population. 

 

Data collected on other “target species” (i.e., blue sucker, shovelnose sturgeon, sturgeon chub, etc.) will be used to determine if trends in their populations relate to pallid sturgeon recovery.  Conservation of native species and recovery of endangered species are important to the Fisheries Vision for the Future. 


Contact Info: Larry Dean, 612-713-5312, Larry_Dean@fws.gov



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