Gonadosomatic index and fecundity of Lower Missouri and Middle Mississippi River endangered pallid sturgeon estimated using minimally invasive techniques


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Author's address: Janice L. Albers, U.S. Geological Survey, Columbia Environmental Research Center, 4200 New Haven Road, Columbia, MO 65201, USA.

E-mail: jalbers@usgs.gov


Minimally invasive, non-lethal methods of ultrasonography were used to assess sex, egg diameter, fecundity, gonad volume, and gonadosomatic index, as well as endoscopy to visually assess the reproductive stage of Scaphirhynchus albus. Estimated mean egg diameters of 2.202 ± 0.187 mm and mean fecundity of 44 531 ± 23 940 eggs were similar to previous studies using invasive techniques. Mean S. albus gonadosomatic indices (GSI) for reproductive and non-reproductive females were 16.16 and 1.26%, respectively, while reproductive and non-reproductive male GSI were 2.00 and 0.43%, respectively. There was no relationship between hybrid status or capture location and GSI. Mean fecundity was 48.5% higher than hatchery spawn estimates. Fecundity increased as fork length increased but did so more dramatically in the upper river kilometers of the Missouri River. By examining multiple fish over multiple years, the reproductive cycle periodicity for hatchery female S. albus was found to be 2–4 years and river dwelling males 1–4 years. The use of ultrasonic and endoscopic methods in combination was shown to be helpful in tracking individual gonad characteristics over multi-year reproductive cycles.