Scaphirhynchus Conference: Alabama, Pallid, and Shovelnose Sturgeon

St. Louis, Missouri, 11-13 January 2005

54.  SEASONAL DISTRIBUTION, RELATIVE ABUNDANCE, AND MOVEMENT PATTERNS OF SHOVELNOSE STURGEON IN THE WABASH RIVER, INDIANA

Anthony J. Kennedy, Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, 175 Marsteller Street, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, USA; telephone: (765) 494-5040; FAX: (765) 494-2422; email: kennedya@purdue.edu

Thomas C. Stefanavage, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Sugar Ridge Fish and Wildlife Area, 2310 E. SR 364, Winslow, IN 47598, USA; telephone: (812) 789-2724; FAX: (812) 789-9453; email: tstefanavage@dnr.state.in.us

Leslie D. Frankland, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fisheries, RR 1 Box 165, Albion, Illinois 62806, USA; telephone: (618) 842-2179; FAX: (618) 842-5107; email: lfrankland@dnrmail.state.il.us

Brant E. Fisher, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area, 7970 South Rowe Street, P.O. Box 3000, Edinburgh, Indiana 46124, USA; telephone: (812) 526-5816; FAX: (812) 526-2892; email: bfisher@dnr.state.in.us

Trent M. Sutton, Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, 195 Marsteller Street, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, USA; telephone: (765) 496-6266; FAX: (765) 496-2422; email: tsutton@purdue.edu

Shovelnose sturgeon Scaphirhynchus platorynchus are a small-bodied, highly mobile sturgeon species that inhabit large rivers of the central United States.  In this study, we examined the seasonal distribution, relative abundance, and movement patterns of shovelnose sturgeon within and between exploited and unexploited reaches of the Wabash River, Indiana.  Shovelnose sturgeon were collected using boat electrofishing, gill nets, and bottom trawls from April 2003 through October 2004.  All fish were measured for fork length and weight, inspected for an egg check from commercial fishers, and received a passive integrated transponder or T-bar anchor tag.  Seasonal distributions, temporal trends in relative abundance, and movement patterns of shovelnose sturgeon were determined using mark/recapture, catch-per-unit-effort, and egg check data.  Catch-per-unit-effort was greatest during March through May, with fish recaptured during this time generally located upstream from their original tagging site.  Several fish crossed the demarcation of the exploited and unexploited section of the river, with some upstream movements greater than 200 km.  Shovelnose sturgeon became concentrated in what appeared to be spawning aggregations in the unexploited section of the Wabash River during spring months.  Our results suggest that the establishment of refugia from commercial fishing may become an important management tool to protect shovelnose sturgeon from overharvest.