MS Assistantships: Evaluation of ecological flows to improve Shovelnose Sturgeon spring spawning success and summer survival in Mississippi River tributaries

Iowa State University/ USGS Iowa Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Ames, Iowa
Job Category
Graduate Assistantships
26,625/year. Half tuition and full health insurance will be covered by the project.
Start Date
Last Date to Apply
We seek two M.S. students to evaluate Shovelnose Sturgeon movement ecology downstream of Red Rock Dam in the Des Moines, Iowa, and Cedar Rivers as part of the United States Army Corps of Engineers Sustainable River Program. Shovelnose Sturgeon are a state species of greatest conservation need threatened by habitat fragmentation and flow and water quality alteration. Sturgeon species rely on flows to cue spawning migrations for successful reproduction which may be altered by upstream dams. Furthermore, it is hypothesized that temperatures exceeding 32°C has resulted in poor observed body condition and reduced survival during the summer. For example, during the summers of 2012 and 2023 thousands of Sturgeon perished. However, the specific flows conditions needed to promote reproduction and the mechanisms linking temperature with fish kills remain unclear. The first project will focus on spring migration phenology of Shovelnose Sturgeon using an acoustic telemetry receiver network in two Mississippi River tributary systems, one with and one without experimental flows. This design will examine how environmental flows influence species movement and may affect the location and timing, of reproduction. The second project will assess movement and habitat selection in relation to discharge and temperature during the summer using active and passive tracking as well as data from accelerometer sensors. This task specifically aims to aid in the potential implementation of “heat wave pulses” from upstream impoundments to reduce the risk of physiological stress in a changing climate. To apply send an email with the subject line “Shovelnose Sturgeon Movement Ecology” that includes a cover letter identifying interest, resume, contact information for 2-3 references, a copy of unofficial transcripts, in one document to Michael Moore, Contact by email with any questions about the project or application process. More information about our research labs and graduate department are available at: ; ;;
B.S. in fisheries, ecology, or related program, minimum GPA of 3.0 required. We are committed to valuing diverse identities experiences and skills. Preference will be given to candidates with boating experience, strong communication abilities, work-ethic, enthusiasm for learning, a growth mindset, a desire to present/publish research results, and documented leadership ability on field research teams in challenging conditions.
Contact Person
Dr. Michael Moore
Contact eMail
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