First maturity and spawning periodicity of hatchery?origin pallid sturgeon in the upper Missouri River above Fort Peck Reservoir, Montana


Luke M. Holmquist, Christopher S Guy, Anne Tews, Molly A. H. Webb


Journal of Applied Ichthyology


The pallid sturgeon Scaphirhynchus albus conservation propagation program has augmented declining wild populations since the 1990s and the older age classes of hatchery?origin fish are beginning to reach sexual maturity in the wild. Currently, the majority of the information available on the age and size at first maturity and spawning periodicity for pallid sturgeon in the upper basin is from captive hatchery?origin pallid sturgeon (i.e. age and size at first maturity and spawning periodicity) or from wild pallid sturgeon artificially spawned in the propagation program (i.e. spawning periodicity). The purpose of this study was to document age and size at first maturity and spawning periodicity of known age hatchery?origin pallid sturgeon that have reached maturity in the wild. Radio?tagged pallid sturgeon in the upper Missouri River upstream of Fort Peck Reservoir were serially sampled in the early?spring over multiple years and assigned to reproductive classifications each year based on sex?steroid concentrations. The youngest reproductively?active male hatchery?origin pallid sturgeon sampled was 14.5 years old and the youngest female was 18. Hatchery?origin males were observed having annual (N = 3) and biennial (N = 2) reproductive cycles. The observed spawning periodicity was similar to what has been reported elsewhere for the species. The youngest mature fish in this study are older and larger than what has been reported for those retained in captivity, indicating that body size alone is not a reliable predictor of maturity for pallid sturgeon.



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