Fishery Resources, Environment, and Conservation in the Mississippi and Yangtze (Changjiang) River Basins

Paddlefishes and Sturgeons of the Yangtze and Mississippi Rivers: Status, Biology, and Management

Quinton E. Phelps, Kelly Baerwaldt, Daqing Chen, Hao Du, Li Shen, Chenyou Wang, Qiwei Wei, Hui Zhang, and Jan Jeffrey Hoover

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874448.ch5

Abstract.—Paddlefishes (Polyodontidae) and sturgeons (Acipenseridae) are taxa of large, ancient fish shared by the Yangtze and Mississippi River basins. In the Yangtze, native Chinese Paddlefish (also known as Chinese Swordfish) Psephurus gladius are functionally extinct and Chinese Sturgeon Acipenser sinensis and Dabry’s Sturgeon A. dabryanus are maintained through stocking. In the Mississippi River, native Paddlefish Polyodon spathula are secure, Pallid Sturgeon Scaphirhynchus albus are endangered, Shovelnose Sturgeon S. platorynchus are threatened, and Lake Sturgeon A. fulvescens are locally imperiled, although large robust populations of all these species exist in portions of their ranges. Paddlefishes and sturgeons of both rivers are habitat specialists, mature late in life (>7 years), and do not spawn every year (1–3-year intervals). With the exception of the Chinese Sturgeon, populations of all these species can be managed in both rivers through a combination of habitat preservation, habitat restoration, flow regulation, stocking of hatchery-reared fish, and regulation of harvest.