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

South Dakota Project

Development of a spatially explicit growth model for larval pallid sturgeon

August 2011 - December 2015


Participating Agencies

  • U. S. Army Corp of Engineers

In young fishes, growth rate is often positively linked to survival. Because growth rate reflects physiological responses to habitat conditions, it can serve as a surrogate for fitness and an index of habitat quality. Bioenergetics modeling provides a robust approach for quantifying growth rate of fishes and evaluating effects of environmental conditions on growth potential. As a habitat assessment tool, bioenergetics modeling is particularly attractive for rare or endangered species such as the pallid sturgeon, given the near absence of early (larval) life stages in the upper Missouri River. The goal of this study is to develop a much needed tool for assessing habitat suitability for larval pallid sturgeon in the Missouri River. By combining physiological energetics with site-specific, environmental conditions, the approach developed here will enable biologists to identify important rearing areas in the Missouri River. Information from this study will have important implications for the pallid sturgeon recovery plan by identifying bottlenecks to growth and survival of larval pallid sturgeon