The Secret Life of Sturgeon
Published: February 8, 2012
Original Presentation- Feb. 8, 2012 Big Muddy Speaker Series in Kansas City
“The Secret Life of Sturgeon” by US Geological Survey ecologist Aaron DeLonay
Tracking and studying the rare and endangered pallid sturgeon in the massive, muddy water of the Missouri River is not an easy task. Aaron Delonay, an ecologist working with the US Geological Survey described some of the innovative techniques and technologies they use as they study the fish, its habitat and its behavior.
The federally endangered pallid sturgeon has become a living symbol of the old, natural Missouri River struggling to survive in the new river man has created. This odd looking, prehistoric fish only lives in the Missouri River and the Mississippi River below St. Louis. It’s uniquely adapted to the intense environment of this turbid, sandy and free-flowing river
These fish are extremely difficult to study. Aaron DeLonay, an ecologist working with the US Geological Survey River Studies Branch in Columbia, will run through some of the innovative methods USGS is using to reveal the habitat needs and life cycles of this rare and elusive fish. From Didson sonar video to telemetric tracking, USGS has been fleshing out the picture of what these fish need to successfully spawn, and what obstacles they run into on our modern Missouri River. In the process, the audience gained a unique and surprising view of the bottom of the Big Muddy.
(photo: colored dots show paths of different sturgeon accessing the slower waters of Lisbon Chute as they travel upstream to spawn. The fish hit the “closing structure” at the upstream end of the chute and cannot travel further)
Photo: USGS biologists track the path of a sturgeon heading upstream. The rainbow colored cross-section of the river on the bottom shows different velocities of that section of the river. Sturgeon tend to choose the some of the slowest water in the channel for moving upstream. This map is from the Yellowstone River.
Photos courtesy of USGS.
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- Presentation Flier (pdf)
- Fascinating Blog by Comprehensive Sturgeon Research Project – reports from the field by the USGS sturgeon team
- “Meet Pallid Sturgeon #1094” – a great article in Columbia Missourian, Dec. 22, 2010, about the USGS project.
- Click here to download DIDSON sonar video of sturgeon near the confluence of the Osage and Missouri Rivers.
- USGS River Studies Branch
- USGS Publications on Missouri River
The Big Muddy Speakers Series in Kansas City
is hosted by these wonderful partners!
- Little Blue River Watershed Coalition
- Friends of Lakeside Nature Center
- Missouri River Relief
- Healthy Rivers Partnership
- Friends of Big Muddy
- Big Muddy National Fish & Wildlife Refuge
- Kansas City Digital Video
Thanks to all of our venue hosts for making this possible! Click here for a list of upcoming presentations» The Big Muddy Speaker Series is also held monthly in Rocheport and St. Charles.
Recordings of Presentations
Kansas City Digital Video has been recording Big Muddy Speaker Series presentations. These are available on their website at this link. Some contain synchronized powerpoint presentations. We will be posting these to the archived presentation pages on bigmuddyspeakers.org. Thanks Micheal Morgan and crew for putting this important archive online! The Big Muddy Speaker Series is partially funded by the Columbia Ecological Services Field Office (USFWS) and the Mo. Dept. of Conservation.