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Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

Paddlefish Study Project

Introduction


paddlefishPaddlefish
(Polyodon spathula) were a common component of fish communities in the large rivers of the Mississippi River drainage before 1900. Overharvest and human alteration of rivers have resulted in significant declines in paddlefish populations. Construction of dams on rivers has especially affected paddlefish by altering traditional river habitats and disrupting spawning migrations and other movements.

Paddlefish have been lost from four states and Canada, and 11 of 22 states within the remaining species range now list the paddlefish as endangered, threatened, or a species of special concern. Restoration of paddlefish populations is a shared goal of many state and federal agencies

tagging locations 
Center scientists, in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, tagged 71 paddlefish with radio-transmitters in the Upper Mississippi River and two tributary rivers and tracked their movements from fall 1994 to fall 1997. Specific study objectives include identifying the important features and availability of critical habitats and assessing the role of dams in impeding migrations and fragmenting populations.

Results of this work will provide state and federal biologists with information to evaluate the effects of river modifications on paddlefish populations and determine options for managing paddlefish populations and their habitats.


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Page Last Modified: March 13, 2014

March 1, 2007