By Aaron DeLonay and Casey Hickcox
October 17, 2019
With the implementation of the new Missouri River Science and Adaptive Management Plan many of the telemetry research activities developed by the Comprehensive Sturgeon Research Project (CSRP) on the Lower Missouri River will be expanded and included in the revised Pallid Sturgeon Population Assessment Program (PSPAP 2.0). The technologies and techniques used to capture, assess, tag, and track sturgeon will be transferred to other participating state and federal agencies. Disseminating this technology requires not only equipment but training as well.
In total, more than 20 biologists from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Missouri Department of Conservation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service came to the USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center for two intensive days of classroom instruction and on-the-water training. The participants spent a day in the classroom focusing on telemetry essentials, surgical transmitter implantation techniques, reproductive assessment of sturgeon, collection of blood for sex steroid profiles, and minimally invasive biopsy techniques to collect eggs from reproductive females. The second day was spent on USGS research tracking boats on the Missouri River becoming familiar with new acoustic telemetry receivers, hydrophones, and transmitters. The river was higher than usual during training and the muddy, turbulent water flowing through the complex habitats of Searcys Bend illustrated to students the unique challenges of telemetry in the Lower Missouri River. River levels will drop eventually and telemetry will get a bit easier but these times when equipment and techniques are pushed to their limits provide an excellent training opportunity. We thank all those who joined us for this training and anticipate more training in the year ahead as all agencies implement telemetry technologies to monitor pallid sturgeon populations.