Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
2008 Pallid Sturgeon Population Assessment and Monitoring Reports
Midwest Region, April 25, 2009
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Columbia National Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office's (NFWCO) , Andrew Plauck and Patty Herman each completed an annual report for the Pallid Sturgeon Population Assessment and Associated Fish Community Monitoring Project.  Columbia NFWCO monitors the lower 250 miles of the Missouri River, which are divided into two segments. Comprehensive reporting of the previous year’s collection effort is required annually for each segment. Plauck and Herman spent two weeks of March and the beginning of April compiling and analyzing data, building graphs, writing and editing text for each of the over 150-page reports. 

By summarizing the previous year’s data and comparing it to past years, biologists can look for trends in fish populations. Standard sampling for this project in 2008 captured 18 pallid sturgeon. Additional sampling effort captured another 85 pallid sturgeon. Of the 103 total pallid sturgeon captures from all projects, 87 were of hatchery origin. Higher numbers and increased catch rates indicate the initial success of the pallid sturgeon stocking program in the Missouri River.

While our program focuses on pallid sturgeon, data are recorded for every species captured. We captured over 15,000 fish in our 2008 standard sampling effort, a notable decrease from 2007. This is likely due to the extreme and extended high water events experienced in 2008 that prevented crews from completing our standard sampling in Segments 13 and 14. Because our gears (nets, trawls and trotlines) specifically target benthic fishes, it is no surprise that shovelnose sturgeon made up the majority of the capture (nearly 6,700 fish). Small bodied fish, such as emerald and red shiners, juvenile catfish, and other chubs and minnows were also captured in high numbers. 

The information included in these reports enables biologists to interpret results and detect trends from the hundreds of datasheets completed in the previous year. Along with providing valuable information to U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, these reports also give us a chance to look back at the countless days on the water collecting this data. Recovery of the federally endangered pallid sturgeon is a priority of Columbia NFWCO. Continued collaboration with multiple state and federal agencies along the Missouri River will enhance the recovery effort for pallid sturgeon throughout their range. Standardized sampling and reporting also allows biologists to detect changes between years and throughout the Missouri River drainage. The pallid sturgeon population assessment project meets the native species goal of the Fisheries Program’s Vision of the Future.

Contact Info: Patricia Herman, 618-997-6869 x108, Patricia_Herman@fws.gov
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