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Fish Phlebotomists Add Another Piece to the Sturgeon Reproductive Puzzle
Midwest Region, April 26, 2007
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Columbia FRO technician Emily Kunz draws blood from a shovelnose sturgeon captured on the Missouri River near Columbia Missouri. This blood will be used in a sturgeon reproductive assessment currently being conducted by USGS. 
- FWS photo by Nick Utrup
Columbia FRO technician Emily Kunz draws blood from a shovelnose sturgeon captured on the Missouri River near Columbia Missouri. This blood will be used in a sturgeon reproductive assessment currently being conducted by USGS.

- FWS photo by Nick Utrup

- Photo Credit: n/a
Columbia FRO technician Emily Kunz stiches up a shovelnose sturgeon captured on the Missouri River near Columbia Missouri. A sample of eggs were extracted from this sturgeon and will be used in a sturgeon reproductive assessment currently being conducted by USGS. 
- FWS photo by Nick Utrup
Columbia FRO technician Emily Kunz stiches up a shovelnose sturgeon captured on the Missouri River near Columbia Missouri. A sample of eggs were extracted from this sturgeon and will be used in a sturgeon reproductive assessment currently being conducted by USGS.

- FWS photo by Nick Utrup

- Photo Credit: n/a

This year Columbia FRO staff teamed up with the USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center to better understand where, when, and under what conditions sturgeon reproduce in the Missouri River. 

 

Mandy Annis, USGS Biologist, joined USFWS employees Lee Erickson, Emily Kunz, Joe McMullen, and Nick Utrup in the field for training this April. Training involved determining if sturgeon were gravid (carrying eggs), and how to go about extracting eggs and blood from the fish.

 

Columbia FRO biologists are now collecting blood and egg samples from gravid shovelnose sturgeon on a weekly basis. A small incision on the belly of the fish and a needle prick is all that is needed to accomplish this goal with the fish being left with little more than a scar and perhaps a little wooziness.

 

Mandy, along with USGS Fisheries Research Biologist Diana Papoulias, examine the eggs in order to determine their maturity, and evaluate hormone levels in the blood to discover correlations between the two.

 

These values are then compared to such environmental factors as time of year, river stage, and water temperature so that biologists will have a better picture of the factors influencing when and why these fish spawn. 

 

Blood and eggs have also been taken from several endangered pallid sturgeon so that biologists working to recover this species can study any similarities with shovelnose sturgeon that may potentially aide in identifying environmental factors necessary for successful spawning.

 

Columbia FRO and USGS are working in full cooperation, using new and advanced technology, to better understand how and why sturgeon species spawn in the Missouri River.

This work will undoubtedly improve our ongoing efforts to better understand and recover the endangered pallid sturgeon and eventually lead to more informed management decisions regarding the protection other sturgeon species.

This cooperative work with USGS satisfies several goals of the fisheries vision for the future, including Aquatic Species Conservation and Management, Partnerships and Accountability, and Leadership in Science and Technology.


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



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