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Development of conceptual ecological models linking management of the Missouri River to pallid sturgeon population dynamics

May 28, 2015

This report documents the process of developing and refining conceptual ecological models (CEMs) for linking river management to pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus) population dynamics in the Missouri River. The refined CEMs are being used in the Missouri River Pallid Sturgeon Effects Analysis to organize, document, and formalize an understanding of pallid sturgeon population responses to past and future management alternatives. The general form of the CEMs, represented by a population-level model and component life-stage models, was determined in workshops held in the summer of 2013. Subsequently, the Missouri River Pallid Sturgeon Effects Analysis team designed a general hierarchical structure for the component models, refined the graphical structure, and reconciled variation among the components and between models developed for the upper river (Upper Missouri & Yellowstone Rivers) and the lower river (Missouri River downstream from Gavins Point Dam). Importance scores attributed to the relations between primary biotic characteristics and survival were used to define a candidate set of working dominant hypotheses about pallid sturgeon population dynamics. These CEMs are intended to guide research and adaptive-management actions to benefit pallid sturgeon populations in the Missouri River.

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