Discrete choice modeling of shovelnose sturgeon habitat selection in the Lower Missouri River

T. W. Bonnot, M. L. Wildhaber, J. J. Millspaugh, A. J. Delonay, R. B. Jacobson, J. L. Bryan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Substantive changes to physical habitat in the Lower Missouri River, resulting from intensive management, have been implicated in the decline of pallid (Scaphirhynchus albus) and shovelnose (S. platorynchus) sturgeon. To aid in habitat rehabilitation efforts, we evaluated habitat selection of gravid, female shovelnose sturgeon during the spawning season in two sections (lower and upper) of the Lower Missouri River in 2005 and in the upper section in 2007. We fit discrete choice models within an information theoretic framework to identify selection of means and variability in three components of physical habitat. Characterizing habitat within divisions around fish better explained selection than habitat values at the fish locations. In general, female shovelnose sturgeon were negatively associated with mean velocity between them and the bank and positively associated with variability in surrounding depths. For example, in the upper section in 2005, a 0.5ms-1 decrease in velocity within 10m in the bank direction increased the relative probability of selection 70%. In the upper section fish also selected sites with surrounding structure in depth (e.g., change in relief). Differences in models between sections and years, which are reinforced by validation rates, suggest that changes in habitat due to geomorphology, hydrology, and their interactions over time need to be addressed when evaluating habitat selection. Because of the importance of variability in surrounding depths, these results support an emphasis on restoring channel complexity as an objective of habitat restoration for shovelnose sturgeon in the Lower Missouri River.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)291-300
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Applied Ichthyology
    Volume27
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Apr 2011

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