Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biologists help save endangered pallid sturgeon

Date:
July 23, 2010
Source:
Tennessee Technological University
Summary:
Fisheries researchers found one piece of a scientific puzzle that just may help save an endangered species from extinction.

TTU graduate student Michelle Casto-Yerty releasing a likely pallid sturgeon after taking some measurements and a fin clip for genetic analysis.
Credit: Image courtesy of Tennessee Technological University

Fisheries researchers at Tennessee Tech University found one piece of a scientific puzzle that just may help save an endangered species from extinction.

The pallid sturgeon is known as the "dinosaur" of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and has been on the endangered species list since 1990. This primitive species has been around since the late Cretaceous period 70 million years ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Today, there are believed to be fewer than 10,000 left in the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to make a determination in September whether to invoke the "Similarity of Appearance" provision under the Endangered Species Act to protect the pallid sturgeon from incidental catch by commercial fishermen. Doing so will end commercial fishing for the more abundant shovelnose sturgeon in the Tennessee waters of the Mississippi River.

The shovelnose sturgeon fishery is a valuable one in Tennessee. Female shovelnose sturgeon are harvested for their eggs, which are processed for caviar. A pound of the pre-processed eggs wholesales for about $100, and an average mature female shovelnose sturgeon can produce about half a pound of eggs.

Scientists believe the endangered pallid sturgeon is no longer reproducing in its natural habitat in sustainable numbers because the rivers have been so altered by dams and channelization. TTU scientists have now proven that commercial fishing is having a direct and detrimental impact on the species as well.

"Biologists elsewhere were concerned because endangered pallid sturgeon was showing up in fish markets occasionally. Those same biologists began noticing that wherever you allow fishing for the common shovelnose sturgeon, you don't see large, old pallid sturgeon," said Phil Bettoli, a TTU biology professor and assistant unit leader for the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fishery Research Unit based at Tech.

State wildlife officials asked Bettoli's team to research the problem of incidental catch of pallid sturgeon. To do so, he and his graduate student accompanied commercial fishermen in Tennessee during the 2007 fishing season and documented several occasions where the endangered fish was being harvested in gill nets alongside the more plentiful shovelnose sturgeon. The incidental catch rate in the Mississippi River was about 2 percent, Bettoli said. The endangered species also was being captured and killed in "ghost nets" lost or left behind in the river.

"It turns out that unless it's a big pallid sturgeon with its distinctive pale coloration, they're really hard to tell apart from the shovelnose sturgeon," he said. "We often had to take a tissue sample and send it to a genetics lab in order to positively identify them after the fact."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published its initial proposed rule announcement in the Federal Register Sept. 22, 2009, and the public comment period closed in February 2010. A determination whether to close the fishery is expected in late August or early September and should be published in the register by Sept. 22, 2010.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Tennessee Technological University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Tennessee Technological University. "Biologists help save endangered pallid sturgeon." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100722144423.htm>.
Tennessee Technological University. (2010, July 23). Biologists help save endangered pallid sturgeon. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100722144423.htm
Tennessee Technological University. "Biologists help save endangered pallid sturgeon." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100722144423.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) Police in Gary, Indiana are using cadaver dogs to search for more victims after a suspected serial killer confessed to killing at least seven women. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Visitors to Belgrade zoo meet a pair of three-week-old lion cubs for the first time. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins