Open Spaces : Missouri

Let's Go Outside! Featured Refuge Events for the Week of November 28th

The weather may be getting colder, but that doesn't mean there isn't anything to do outside! Here are some of the events happening at refuges across the country this week.  As always, make sure you head over to the Refuge System's homepage and use their searchable map to find a Wildlife Refuge near you!

Let's go outside!

First Snow at SunsetThe season's first snow at Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, ND on Nov. 7, 2011

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Meet the Ozark Hellbender - Five Facts You Might Not Know

If you follow us on Facebook you might remember seeing a post about the Ozark hellbender being declared an endangered species. But how much do you know about the species, other than its odd name?

Here are five cool facts about the Ozark hellbender:

Ozark Hellbender Underwater

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Missouri: Climate Concerns Add to Challenges Facing Sturgeon Recovery Efforts

A man in USFWS gear holds a pallid sturgeon

Adaptation iconLocation: Lower Missouri River 
Species of Concern: Pallid sturgeon
Engagement iconClimate Change Threat: Changes in water levels and temperature

Camera iconPhotos and Video: Pallid Sturgeon Recovery Photoset with video clips on Flickr

Video iconAudio: Researchers Develop Models to Predict Pallid Sturgeon's Response to Climate Change (on KBIA.org)

Photo at left: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biological science technician Brett Witte shows the distinctive coloring, body shape and long, flat snout of an endangered pallid sturgeon. Credit: USFWS.

Above-average fluctuations in rainfall, snowmelt and runoff in the lower Missouri River are complicating U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service efforts to recover endangered pallid sturgeon, one of the continent’s largest freshwater fish.  Unusually low water levels in 2004 and 2006 have been followed by record high levels since 2007, say scientists.  The Service is working with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) through the National Climate Change Wildlife Science Center and Science Support Partnership Program to anticipate how a range of such changes may impact pallid sturgeon recovery efforts throughout the region, encompassing Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and South Dakota.

“Essentially we are trying to build a more comprehensive picture of how the fish may react [to changes in water level and temperature that might be associated with a changing climate],” said Mark Wildhaber, USGS research ecologist.

For centuries, rivers in the West and Midwest teemed with these great fish, which can weigh as much as 60 pounds, and have distinctive long, flat snouts. Then engineers dammed and straightened the Missouri, eliminating tree snags where sturgeon would feed, hide and spawn. Overharvesting by commercial roe fishermen further stressed the species, listed as endangered in 1990. Scientists have only recently begun to factor climate change into the recovery equation.

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Last updated: June 21, 2012