Habitat Selection and Dispersal of Lake Sturgeon in Missouri River Tributaries:
Implications for Species Recovery and a Future Recreational Fishery


    1) Determine the location and environmental conditions of Lake Sturgeon spawning 2) Determine the summer and fall distribution and habitat use of age 0 Lake Sturgeon in the Osage and Gasconade rivers.

As Missouri’s Lake Sturgeon population has begun to grow and mature, efforts have been made to identify critical habitats for various life stages. However, this information can be challenging to collect. Identifying spawning sites, site characteristics, and documenting successful hatching have been recognized as the most important next step to recovering this species in Missouri Identifying spawning sites will facilitate their protection, which may be needed for a self-sustaining population in Missouri and allow us to collect data that may help us identify additional sites, or create similar sites. A recent study at the University of Missouri documented that subadult and adult lake sturgeon use of the Osage and Gasconade Rivers was high and year-round. Although spawning was not confirmed during this study, the project did define where spawning could occur, based on spawning site characteristics in other rivers, paired with telemetry data. In addition, a pilot study using trawls captured both fingerlings and juvenile Lake Sturgeon from the previous year’s stocking, indicating that at least some of the stocked fingerlings were over-wintering in these rivers as well. However, we do not know what habitats these fish are using during the rest of the year and how it affects their survival. Collectivity, this study will inform the Lake Sturgeon recovery efforts by determining if Lake Sturgeon spawn and recruit in the Osage River and/or the Gasconade River, which habitats are conducive to adults spawning, and habitat preference of age 0 fish, as Missouri has limited information about these critical habitats.. 


  • Investigator: PhD student TBD
  • Advisor: Dr. Craig Paukert
  • Funding: Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC)
  • Collaborators: Travis Moore, Nicole Farless: MDC
  • Location: Gasconade and Osage rivers, central Missouri
  • Expected Date of Completion: July 2027