Nature Lab

By Dianne Van Dien | September 1, 2022
From Missouri Conservationist: September 2022

Fisheries Science

Ohio Shrimp Surveys

You might be surprised to learn that shrimp live in Missouri — two species do, in fact. The Mississippi grass shrimp is relatively numerous and spends its entire life in freshwater streams, but “the Ohio shrimp is rare in our state. It’s found primarily in the Mississippi River in southeast Missouri and migrates to saltwater for part of its life cycle,” explains MDC Fisheries Scientist Andrew Glen.

“My great uncles talked about sticking willow branches into the river and pulling them out loaded with Ohio shrimp that they’d use as bait,” says Dave Herzog, MDC science supervisor. “But the numbers fell during the 1930s to 1970s with added pollution and habitat change.”

While Ohio shrimp also declined in the lower Mississippi River, by the 1970s none were believed to exist in Missouri. Then, in 1991, MDC researchers found some near Cape Girardeau when sampling aquatic species as part of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program’s Long-Term Resource Monitoring, which continues today.

Fish, vegetation, water, and land use data are all collected and analyzed as part of this multi-agency, multistate program. Data is shared among agencies to inform habitat restoration along the river and to gauge its success.

Traveling to and from the Gulf of Mexico, “Ohio shrimp serve as an indicator species for other critters and fish that move up and down the river or that need a flowing and open system to complete their life history,” Herzog says. “As both predator and prey, they’re an interesting example of how something relatively small can be super important to an ecosystem.”

Ohio Shrimp Surveys at a Glance

MDC monitors Ohio shrimp and other aquatic species as part of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program. This long-term project began about 35 years ago and involves multiple agencies across several states working together to monitor species and manage the Mississippi River and its habitats. Learn more at


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This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Larry Archer
Photography Editor - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Staff Writer – Dianne Van Dien
Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
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Circulation Manager - Laura Scheuler