Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: South Dakota
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

South Dakota Project

Living in a gradient: The influence of water temperature variation on development, settling time and survival of Pallid Sturgeon larvae in the Missouri River

April 2020 - December 2022


Participating Agencies

  • US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Western Area Power Administration

Release of cold, hypolimnetic water below Missouri River impoundments can suppress downstream water temperature for long distances (>300 km), especially during summer months. Because cooler water temperatures are associated with reduced growth and development of sturgeon, they can delay the behavioral transition from negative to positive rheotaxis in Pallid Sturgeon larvae; an important life history event associated with switching from endogenous to exogenous feeding. Using empirical data from the upper Missouri River, we are quantifying effects of water temperature increase on growth, settling time, and survival of Pallid Sturgeon larvae. Information gained from this study will help guide management options for downstream release of water from impoundments and identify potential stocking locations for larvae that enhance settling and survival.