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Polyodon spathula

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA ACTINOPTERYGII ACIPENSERIFORMES POLYODONTIDAE

Scientific Name: Polyodon spathula
Species Authority: (Walbaum, 1792)
Common Name(s):
English Paddlefish, Spadefish, Duckbill Cat, Spoonbill Cat
French Poisson Spatule

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A3de ver 3.1
Year Published: 2004
Date Assessed: 2004-04-30
Assessor(s): Grady, J. (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
Reviewer(s): St. Pierre, R. & Pourkazemi, M. (Sturgeon Red List Authority)
Justification:
The number of mature individuals in the population number considerably more than 10,000. Area of occupancy is very large and substantial subpopulation mixing may occur due to large scale movements of adult paddlefish.

Competition, predation, diseases and parasites were evaluated in the 1992 review (USFWS 1992) and determined not to be limiting factors for paddlefish stocks. Although dams, habitat, and water quality concerns still occur in several locations, the majority of formerly occupied habitats remain available to this species. Continued application of existing U.S. laws (e.g., Clean Water Act, Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, etc.) and current and future mitigation and habitat improvements designed to improve pallid sturgeon breeding and nursery habitats should benefit the paddlefish.

The 1992 USFWS status review for paddlefish determined that listing this species as threatened under the ESA was not warranted at that time. Tagging results of the five year MICRA paddlefish project and harvest reports from states with sport and commercial fisheries indicate that range-wide paddlefish populations exceed 10,000 individuals and can currently sustain harvests.

American paddlefish is now proposed for listing as VU 3de throughout their range. We believe that an overall population size reduction of at least 30% may occur within the next 10 years or three generations due to actual or potential levels of exploitation and the effects of introduced taxa, pollutants, competitors or parasites. Although paddlefish are widespread and several subpopulations could be considered relatively abundant, the Vulnerable classification is recommended to recognize that, range-wide, paddlefish still may face potential population decline due to expected increased legal and illegal harvest for caviar production and competition with increasing populations of exotic Asian carp species for food and habitat.
History:
1996 Vulnerable
1994 Vulnerable (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Vulnerable (IUCN 1990)
1988 Indeterminate (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
1986 Indeterminate (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Mississippi River basin from southwestern New York to central Montana and south to Louisiana; Gulf Slope drainages from Mobile Basin, Alabama (primarily below the Fall Line; Mettee et al. 1996), to Galveston Bay, Texas (Page and Burr 1991). The historical range included occurrences in Canada in Lake Huron and Lake Helen and in 26–27 states in the United States (Parker 1988, Graham 1997).

Extirpated in Canada, there have been no Canadian records since the early 1900s (Parker 1988). However, Canada never was a significant part of the distribution (highly peripheral).

For a more detailed description of this species’ range, see the NatureServe’s Explorer database.
Countries:
Native:
United States (Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan - Regionally Extinct, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York - Regionally Extinct, North Carolina - Possibly Extinct, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania - Possibly Extinct, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin)
Regionally extinct:
Canada (Ontario)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: In 1992, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced a 12-month Ruling in the Federal Register declaring the listing of paddlefish as Threatened was not warranted in response to a petition to list this species as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). The assessment found that, historical and current scientific information, including fundamental information about population size and structure, growth rate, and fisheries harvest was almost completely lacking. Interviews with fisheries biologists indicated that while paddlefish were declining in some areas, in other areas they were expanding and occupying habitat from which they’d been formerly extirpated. While some state agencies listed the paddlefish as a species of concern others licensed commercial and sport anglers.

The Mississippi Interstate Cooperative Resource Association (MICRA) was established in 1991 to address the full spectrum of fisheries management issues in the Mississippi River Basin. MICRA launched a basin-wide, multi-year, coded wire tagging paddlefish study in the spring of 1995 to help address issues of paddlefish population size and large-scale movements. Twenty-two Mississippi River Basin states actively participate in the paddlefish project by: 1) hatchery-raising and tagging more than 1.3 million paddlefish for release into Basin waters since 1988; 2) collecting and tagging 11,281 wild adult paddlefish in 19,178 hours of sampling in Basin waters since 1995; and 3) collecting tag return and creel information in those states which allow sport and/or commercial harvests.

Number of mature individuals in this range-wide population number considerably more than 10,000. Area of occupancy is very large. Substantial subpopulation mixing may occur due to large-scale movements of adult paddlefish.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Freshwater.
Systems: Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Competition, predation, diseases and parasites were evaluated in the 1992 review (USFWS 1992) and determined not to be limiting factors for paddlefish stocks. Although dams, habitat, and water quality concerns still occur in several locations, the majority of formerly occupied habitats remain available to this species. Continued application of existing U.S. laws (e.g., Clean Water Act, Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, etc.) and current and future mitigation and habitat improvements designed to improve pallid sturgeon breeding and nursery habitats should benefit the paddlefish.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The 1992 USFWS status review for paddlefish determined that listing this species as threatened under the ESA was not warranted at that time. Tagging results of the five year MICRA paddlefish project and harvest reports from states with sport and commercial fisheries indicate that range-wide paddlefish populations exceed 10,000 individuals and can currently sustain harvests.

In states with sport fisheries, paddlefish are managed by seasons and bag limits to ensure sustained harvests (MICRA 1993). Fourteen states currently have paddlefish sport fisheries. Six of these are supplemented by stocking programs (Graham 1997). The management authority for this species is the individual state fish and game agency responsible for waters within their jurisdiction. This species still supports commercial fisheries in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee where authorities believe the harvest is well managed and sustainable. However, there are individual subpopulations that have been overexploited.

This species is listed on CITES Appendix II.

Citation: Grady, J. (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) 2004. Polyodon spathula. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 23 July 2014.
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