Scaphirhynchus platorynchus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA ACTINOPTERYGII ACIPENSERIFORMES ACIPENSERIDAE

Scientific Name: Scaphirhynchus platorynchus
Species Authority: (Rafinesque, 1820)
Common Name(s):
English Shovelnose Sturgeon, Sand Sturgeon

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A3d+4ac ver 3.1
Year Published: 2004
Date Assessed: 2004-04-30
Assessor(s): Surprenant, C. (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
Reviewer(s): St. Pierre, R. & Pourkazemi, M. (Sturgeon Red List Authority)
Justification:
The Vulnerable assessment reflects a range reduction of approximately 30%, primarily as a result of past dam construction which is not realistically reversible. In addition, a population size reduction of 30% or more is projected or suspected to be met within the next 10 years or three generations, whichever is the longer, due to actual or potential levels of exploitation.

Alteration of large rivers and construction of locks and dams for navigation purposes has contributed significantly to the decline of shovelnose sturgeon by blocking access to ancestral spawning grounds and by eliminating its requisite lotic habitat. In addition to impacts related to navigation, much of the habitat available to the shovelnose sturgeon within its historic range, has also been altered by water resource development projects designed to provide for irrigation, public water supply, public recreation, and the production of electricity. Dams have blocked spawning migrations, isolated populations, destroyed rearing and spawning habitats, and altered food supply as well as changed flow, turbidity and temperature regimes (Dryer and Sandvol 1993).

While shovelnose sturgeon roe is used as an acceptable caviar, over-harvest has not yet been a major detriment to the species.

Much of the information in this species account was taken with permission from Shovelnose sturgeon, Scaphirhynchus platorynchus by Jerry L. Rasmussen in "A Compendium of Fishery Information on the Upper Mississippi River Third Edition 2001", a publication of the Upper Mississippi River Conservation Committee currently undergoing final review.
History:
1996 Vulnerable

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The species occurs throughout much of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and portions of their largest tributaries (Lee 1978), including the lower Ohio River (Smith 1979). The species once occurred as far upstream in the Ohio River as Pennsylvania (Trautman 1981). Shovelnose sturgeon are rare above Newburg, Indiana (Wallace et al. 1990), but relatively abundant below Smithland Locks and Dam at Ohio River kilometer 1,479 (Greg Conover, USFWs, pers. comm.). The Scaphirhynchus species, previously reported as shovelnose sturgeon in the drainages of Mobile Bay in Alabama by Smith-Vaniz (1968), were reclassified by Williams and Clemmer (1991) as the Alabama sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus suttkusi). The only known subpopulation of shovelnose sturgeon in the Alabama portion of the Tennessee River is apparently extinct. Shovelnose sturgeon may still occur sporadically in the lower Tennessee or Cumberland Rivers (Etnier and Starnes 1993). A disjunct subpopulation once occurred in the Rio Grande of Northern New Mexico (Tomelleri and Eberle 1990), but only one specimen is known to exist from that subpopulation (Blair et al. 1968). Eddy and Underhill (1974) report shovelnose sturgeon occurring in the Hudson Bay drainage of the Canadian Plains. This may be an error, however, since Scott and Crossmen (1973) in Freshwater Fishes of Canada make no reference to the species in that country.
Countries:
Native:
United States (Alabama - Regionally Extinct, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico - Regionally Extinct, North Dakota, Ohio - Regionally Extinct, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania - Regionally Extinct, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia - Regionally Extinct, Wisconsin, Wyoming)
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: In 2001, all of the states within the current and historic range of the shovelnose sturgeon were surveyed by the Mississippi Interstate Cooperative Resource Association (MICRA) to determine the shovelnose sturgeon status. Ten of the range states responded with sufficient information to allow the author to place the individual states into one of four classifications: (1) extirpated, (2) rare/vulnerable/imperiled, (3) stable and (4) undetermined. The remaining range states were assigned these classifications based on information provided by the Nature Conservancy at their website: http://www.natureserve.org/explore. The species has been extirpated from five states, is rare to imperiled in four states, stable in 10 states and has undetermined status in five states.

Historically, shovelnose were apparently common in the Tennessee River system, all the way to the French Broad River on the Tennessee-North Carolina border before the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) reservoir system was constructed (Etnier and Starnes 1993). These authors note that, while the species may still occur there sporadically, no recent records exist for either the Tennessee or Cumberland rivers. Sprague (1960) documented the decline in catch and condition of the shovelnose over a five-year period in the Missouri River after impoundment of Lewis and Clark Lake. However, since then these subpopulations have apparently recovered and stabilized (Hesse and Carreiro 1997). Trautman (1981) stated that the shovelnose was considered abundant in the Ohio River until 1911 when the river began "ponding" as a result of construction of the slackwater navigation project, thereby partially stopping the spawning run. After that, Trautman (1981) said fishermen reported a drastic decrease in shovelnose sturgeon abundance. Mettee, et al. (1996) considered the shovelnose extirpated in Alabama.

Today, the shovelnose sturgeon still occurs in most of the large tributaries of the Upper Mississippi River from Wisconsin to Illinois. Hesse and Carreiro (1997) listed 59 rivers, creeks, oxbows and bayous in the Mississippi River Basin where shovelnose sturgeon occurred historically, but only 44 of these were listed as supporting the species today. In Illinois, the species is most abundant in the Wabash River, a tributary to the Ohio River (Smith 1979). According to Smith (1979) the Wabash is less impacted by flood-control dams and other modifications than are the remainder of Illinois’ large rivers.

In the mainstem Mississippi River, numbers of shovelnose sturgeon have decreased sharply since 1900 (Becker 1983), although the species is still commonly taken by commercial fishermen (UMRCC Annual Reports; Etnier and Starnes 1993. Several authors have noted a lack of natural reproduction in areas of the Missouri and have attributed it to man-made alterations to shovelnose sturgeon habitat (Bailey and Cross 1954, June 1977, Moos 1978). Meanwhile, upstream from the Missouri River mainstem impoundments shovelnose sturgeon remain abundant in the river below Great Falls, Montana and in the major tributaries (Montana DNRC 1977). Robison and Buchanan (1988) describe the shovelnose as especially abundant in the unimpounded portions of the Arkansas, lower White and Red rivers in Arkansas. According to Hesse and Carreiro (1997) state biologists attribute the success of White River sturgeon to a somewhat natural hydrograph with seasonal floods, good gravel bars, and backwater complexes.

Hesse and Carreiro (1997) concluded that while shovelnose sturgeon have probably been considered less at risk than other sturgeon species, evidence suggests that deterioration of the shovelnose’s overall range is keeping pace with that of the other sturgeon species.

Obrecht (1996) noted that shovelnose have been reintroduced into the Bighorn River Basin in Wyoming, where they had been extirpated by dams which blocked spawning migrations from downstream in Montana. West Virginia and New Mexico have also developed reintroduction plans for rivers where the shovelnose has been extirpated (Keenlyne 1997). The Ohio Division of Wildlife reports a plan to reintroduce the shovelnose sturgeon in the Ohio River above Meldahl Lock and Dam at Ohio River kilometer 702 (Scott Schell, pers. comm.). The species has not been recorded from the middle Rio Grande in New Mexico since 1875 (NMDGF 1991).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Smallest of the sturgeon species in North America, shovelnose sturgeon can tolerate high turbidities and are usually found in the strong currents of main river channels. They are often found over sand and gravel substrates feeding on aquatic insects, mussels, worms and crustaceans. Spawning normally occurs from April through early July with mature shovelnose migrating upriver to spawn over rocky substrates in flowing water between 19–21ºC. Individuals mature after 5–7 years of age, at total lengths of approximately 500 mm and 630 mm for males and females, respectively. Their weight at this age ranges from 0.9–1.3 kg (National Paddlefish and Sturgeon Steering Committee 1992).

River sturgeon are uniquely adapted to mainstem river systems which are characterized by their large scale, diverse habitats, and a dynamic nature (Beamesderfer and Farr 1997). Adaptations include mobility, opportunistic feeding habits, delayed maturation, longevity, and high individual fecundity. Unfortunately, in recent decades these same life history characteristics have become a handicap to the species and led to population declines because of man-induced habitat fragmentation and destruction (Beamesderfer and Farr 1997).
Systems: Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Alteration of large rivers and construction of locks and dams for navigation purposes has contributed significantly to the decline of shovelnose sturgeon by blocking access to ancestral spawning grounds and by eliminating its requisite lotic habitat. In addition to impacts related to navigation, much of the habitat available to the shovelnose sturgeon within its historic range, has also been altered by water resource development projects designed to provide for irrigation, public water supply, public recreation, and the production of electricity. Dams have blocked spawning migrations, isolated populations, destroyed rearing and spawning habitats, and altered food supply as well as changed flow, turbidity and temperature regimes (Dryer and Sandvol 1993).

While shovelnose sturgeon roe is used as an acceptable caviar, overharvest has not yet been a major detriment to the species. This may be due to its relatively small size in comparison to lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) and the pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus), the other two sturgeon species found historically throughout its range. Shovelnose are locally abundant in some areas where large river habitat is still fairly intact and modest commercial fisheries occur in a few states where some acceptable riverine habitat still exists (National Paddlefish and Sturgeon Steering Committee 1992).

Hesse and Carreiro (1997) recorded causes for shovelnose sturgeon decline (as reported to them by state biologists) as habitat degradation, loss of natural hydrograph, sedimentation, channelization, loss of spawning habitat, flood control and navigation dams, artificial water management, water temperature alteration, and past over-harvest. Boreman (1997) noted that sturgeon life history and habitat use attributes make the species highly vulnerable to fishing pressure. Specifically, he attributed this vulnerability to their older age (than most fishes) at full maturity, lower fecundity values, and older age at which 50% of the lifetime egg production is realized with no fishing mortality.

Shovelnose sturgeon continue to be commercially harvested in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Arkansas closed shovelnose sturgeon to commercial fishing on its state waters of the Mississippi River in 2000, as a measure to reduce the by-catch of endangered pallid sturgeon. Keenlyne (1997) reported the commercial harvest of shovelnose meat and roe in 1992 as follows:

Arkansas: 14,500 kg meat; 88–110 kg caviar
Illinois: 22,335 kg meat; 77 kg caviar
Indiana: no data on meat harvest; 55 kg caviar
Iowa: 34,603 kg meat; 55 kg caviar
Kentucky: no data on meat harvest; 88 kg caviar
Missouri: 26,460 kg meat; 66–88 kg caviar
Wisconsin: 11,025 kg meat; 33 kg caviar

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Arkansas closed shovelnose sturgeon to commercial fishing on its state waters of the Mississippi River in 2000, as a measure to reduce the by-catch of endangered pallid sturgeon. It is listed on CITES Appendix II.

Bibliography [top]

Bailey, R.M. and Cross, F.B. 1954. River sturgeon of the American genus Scaphirhynchus: characters, distribution and synonymy. Pap. Michigan Acad. Sci., Arts and Letters 39:169-208

Baillie, J. and Groombridge, B. (eds). 1996. 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. pp. 378. International Union for Conservation of Nature, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Beamesderfer, R.C.P. and Farr, R.A. 1997. Alternatives for the protection and restoration of sturgeons and their habitat. Environmental Biology of Fishes 48: 407-417.

Becker, G.C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin Press. Madison, WI. 1052 pp.

Blair, W.F., Blair, A.P., Brodkorb, P., Cagle, F.R. and Moore, G.F. 1968. Vertebrates of the United States. Second Edition. McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York. 616 pp.

Boreman, J. 1997. Sensitivity of North American sturgeons and paddlefish to fishing mortality. Environmental Biology of Fishes 48(1/4):399-405.

Dryer, M.P. and Sandvol, A.J. 1993. Recovery plan for the pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Bismarck, ND. 55 pp

Eddy, S. and Underhill, J.C. 1974. Northern fishes. University of Minneapolis Press, Minneapolis. 414 pp.

Etnier, D.A. and Starnes, W.C. 1993. The Fishes of Tennessee. The University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville. 681 pp.

Hesse, L.W. and Carreirov J.R. 1997. The status of paddlefish, pallid sturgeon, lake sturgeon, and shovelnose sturgeon: a summary of information regarding status, distribution, and current management strategies within their present range. Mississippi Interstate Cooperative Resource Association, Bettendorf, Iowa.

IUCN. 2004. 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 23 November 2004.

June, F.C. 1977. Reproductive Patterns in seventeen species of warmwater species in a Missouri River reservoir. Environmental Biology of Fishes 2:285-296.

Keenlyne, K.D. 1997. Life history and status of the shovelnose sturgeon, Scaphirhynchus platorynchus. Environmental Biology of Fishes 48:291-298.

Lee, D.S. 1978. Scaphirhynchus platorynchus (Rafinesque), Shovelnose sturgeon. In: D.S. Lee, et al. Atlas of North American Freshwater Fishes. p 44. N.C. State Mus. Nat. Hist., Raleigh.

Mettee, M.F., O’Neil, P.E. and Pierson, J.M. 1996. Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin. Oxmoor House, Inc. Birmingham, Alabama.

Montana D.N.R.C. 1977. The effect of altered streamflow on fish in the Yellowstone and Tongue rivers, Montana. Yellowstone Impact Study, Tech Rept. No. 8. Prep. for The Old West Regional Commission. Montana Dept. of Natural Resources and Conservation, Billings. pp. 24-47.

Moos, R.E. 1978. Movement and reproduction of shovelnose sturgeon Scaphirhynchus platorynchus (Rafinesque) in the Missouri River, South Dakota. Ph.D. diss., Univ. of South Dakota, Vermillion. 213 pp.

National Paddlefish and Sturgeon Steering Committee. 1992. Framework for the Management of Conservation of Paddlefish and Sturgeon Species in the United States. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C. 12 pp.+App.

New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. 1991. Checklist of the extinct, extirpated, and vanishing wildlife in New Mexico. March 11, 1991. New Mexico Deptartment of Game and Fish, Endangered Species Program, Santa Fe.

Obrecht, J. 1996. Shovelnose sturgeon reintroduced to Bighorn Basin. Wyoming Game & Fish News, Cheyenne.

Robison, H.W. and Buchanan, T.M. 1988. Fishes of Arkansas. The University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville. 536 pp.

Scott, W.B. and Crossman, E.J. 1973 Freshwater fishes of Canada. (Reprinted 1990). Bulletin of Fisheries Research Board of Canada 184.

Smith, P.W. 1979. The Fishes of Illinois. University of Illinois Press, Urbana. 314 pp.

Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1968. Fishes of Alabama. Paragon Press, Montgomery. 211 pp

Sprague, J.W. 1960. Report of fisheries investigations during the fifth year of impoundment of Gavin’s Point Reservoir, South Dakota, 1959. Dingell-Johnson Project. F-1-R-9. 47 pp.

Tomelleri, J.R. and Eberle, M.E. 1990. Fishes of the Central United States. University Press of Kansas. 226 pp.

Trautman, M.B. 1981. The fishes of Ohio. Ohio State University Press, Columbus, Ohio.

Wallace, R., Simon, T.P. and Yeager, B.L. 1990. Reproductive biology and early life history of fishes in the Ohio River drainage. Volume 1: Acipenseridae through Esocidae. Tennessee Valley Authority, Chattanoga, Tennessee, USA.

Williams, J.D. and Clemmer, G.H. 1991. Scaphirhynchus suttkusi, a new sturgeon (Pisces: Acipenseridae) from the Mobile Basin of Alabama and Mississippi. Bulletin of the Alabama Museum of Natural History 10:17-31.


Citation: Surprenant, C. (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) 2004. Scaphirhynchus platorynchus. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 30 July 2014.
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