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Ontogenetic development of pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus) and shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus) from hatch through yolk absorption

October 12, 2022

Sturgeons have a complex free-embryo period extending from hatch to the initiation of exogenous feeding. Although available for some sturgeon species of the genus Acipenser, descriptions of the developmental stages of free embryos of the genus Scaphirhynchus are lacking. We characterised the ontogenetic development of pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus) and shovelnose sturgeon (S. platorynchus) free embryos from hatch through melanin plug expulsion. The rate of development was similar between Scaphirhynchus species among free embryos from 4 pallid sturgeon and 7 shovelnose sturgeon crosses reared separately in the laboratory at a mean temperature of 17.8°C. Free embryos required a mean of 18.2 days postfertilisation (DPF; 323.5 cumulative thermal units; CTU) to reach melanin plug expulsion for pallid sturgeon and 17.9 DPF (318.3 CTU) for shovelnose sturgeon. Free embryos of both species showed overlap in lengths among developmental stages indicating that length of free embryos alone is insufficient to estimate age. Description of pallid sturgeon and shovelnose sturgeon free-embryo development provides a template to develop more sophisticated models incorporating length and stage to estimate the age of field-collected specimens. Improved estimates of free-embryo developmental stage and age may aid in the identification of timing and location of spawning and better inform flow manipulation and habitat management actions tailored to increase survival of early life-stage pallid sturgeon.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2023
Title Ontogenetic development of pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus) and shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus) from hatch through yolk absorption
DOI 10.1111/eff.12680
Authors Kimberly Chojnacki, Marlene J Dodson, Amy E. George, James Candrl, Aaron J. Delonay
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecology of Freshwater Fish
Index ID 70237725
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Columbia Environmental Research Center