Paddlefish: Ecological, Aquacultural, and Regulatory Challenges of Managing a Global Resource

Chapter 3: Paddlefish Migrations and Movements: A Review of Tagging and Telemetry Studies

Sara J. Tripp, Ben C. Neely, and R. John H. Hoxmeier


Abstract.—Many studies have demonstrated components of Paddlefish Polyodon spathula movements or migrations between spawning, feeding, and overwintering areas. However, the extent, timing, purpose, and potential consequences of these movements have not been summarized. With advances in tagging and telemetry technology, information regarding spatial ecology of Paddlefish populations is increasing and has demonstrated that individuals move greater distances and occupy greater home ranges than previously described. Increased implementation of these techniques has provided new information about migration routes, timing of migration, spawning and nursery locations, interactions with dams and other anthropogenic modifications, habitat use, and the influence of environmental factors on cues to movement and migration. The importance of upstream migrations to Paddlefish reproductive success has been documented by many researchers; however, observations of smaller-scale movements (e.g., vertical or diel) suggest that these might be equally important for completion of the species’ life history cycle. This review chapter focuses on synthesizing results of tagging studies to characterize seasonal movements and migrations of Paddlefish throughout their range, identification of knowledge gaps to be addressed in future efforts, and investigation of how this information affects current issues related to conservation and management strategies in a broad ecological sense. Given the propensity of Paddlefish to conduct both large- and small-scale movements throughout their life cycle, understanding spatial and temporal movement patterns will be critical in defining populations and determining the future scope of management to restore these populations and ensure sustainability throughout their range.