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Alosa sapidissima  (Wilson, 1811)

American shad
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Native range | All suitable habitat | PointMap | Year 2100
This map was computer-generated and has not yet been reviewed.
Alosa sapidissima   AquaMaps   Data sources: GBIF OBIS
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Image of Alosa sapidissima (American shad)
Alosa sapidissima
Picture by Flescher, D.

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Clupeiformes (Herrings) > Clupeidae (Herrings, shads, sardines, menhadens) > Alosinae
Etymology: Alosa: Latin, alausa = a fish cited by Ausonius and Latin, halec = pickle, dealing with the Greek word hals = salt; it is also the old Saxon name for shad = "alli" ; 1591 (Ref. 45335);  sapidissima: sapidissima meaning most delicious (Ref. 1998).

Environment / Climate / Range Ecology

Marine; freshwater; brackish; pelagic-neritic; anadromous (Ref. 51243); depth range 0 - 250 m (Ref. 6793).   Temperate; 61°N - 22°N, 115°E - 59°W (Ref. 188)

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm ?, range 38 - 48.5 cm
Max length : 76.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 6885); 61.7 cm SL (female); common length : 50.0 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 188); max. published weight: 5.5 kg (Ref. 7251); max. reported age: 13 years (Ref. 72462)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 15-19; Anal spines: 0; Anal soft rays: 18 - 24; Vertebrae: 51 - 60. Moderately compressed, belly with a distinct keel. Lower jaw not rising steeply within mouth. Gill rakers long and slender (fewer in young). Silvery in color with blue or blue-green metallic luster on back (Ref. 1998). A dark spot on shoulder, sometimes followed by several more, or even a second row. Resembles A. pseudoharengus with lower jaw rising steeply within mouth, eyes larger, and fewer lower gill rakers, as also A. aestivalis and A. mediocris (Ref. 188). Silvery, with a green or bluish back (Ref. 7251). Branchiostegal rays 7 (Ref. 4639).

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

North America: Newfoundland (Ref. 1998), the St. Lawrence River, and Nova Scotia southward to central Florida. Due to introductions into the Sacramento and Columbia Rivers, this species is now found from Cook Inlet, Alaska (Ref. 1998) to Baja California in Mexico and the Kamchatka Peninsula.

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Spend most of its life at sea, returning to freshwater streams to breed (Ref. 27547). Non-spawning adults are found in schools near the surface of continental shelf waters in spring, summer and fall (Ref. 7135); also found in brackish waters (Ref. 4607). Newly hatched larvae are found in rivers during the summer; by autumn they enter the sea and remain there until maturity. Juveniles form schools at 20-30 mm TL and gradually move downstream (Ref. 4639). Feed on plankton, mainly copepods and mysids, occasionally on small fishes. Feeding ceases during upstream spawning migration and resumes during the downstream post-spawning migration (Ref. 1998). Commercially caught in rivers and estuaries during spawning migration (Ref. 1998). Utilized fresh, salted, or smoked. The roe is esteemed. Eaten pan-fried, broiled, and baked (Ref. 9988). Possibly to 375 m depth (Ref. 6793). Parasites found are nematodes, Acanthocephala, copepods and distomes (Ref. 37032).

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

Some shad spawn immediately on entering fresh water while others may undertake fairly long journeys, as much as 630 km upstream, to their favored spawning grounds (Ref. 4607). Enters rivers as early as November (Florida) and as late as May or June in the north, depending on water temperature (peak runs at about 18.5 °C). Spawning occurs at sundown and continues until after midnight. The fish pair and swim close together, releasing eggs and milt (Ref. 27547). Adults descend shortly after spawning, the young in the autumn. Spawning reported from 8-26°C, generally occurs at 12-21°C (Ref. 38954).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

Whitehead, P.J.P., 1985. FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 7. Clupeoid fishes of the world (suborder Clupeioidei). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the herrings, sardines, pilchards, sprats, shads, anchovies and wolf-herrings. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(7/1):1-303. Rome: FAO. (Ref. 188)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 96402)

CITES (Ref. 94142)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

  Harmless




Human uses

Fisheries: commercial; gamefish: yes
FAO(fisheries: production; publication : search) | FisheriesWiki | Sea Around Us

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Estimates of some properties based on models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805):  PD50 = 0.5000   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00661 (0.00361 - 0.01210), b=3.00 (2.85 - 3.15), based on LWR estimates for species & Genus-body shape (Ref. 93245).
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278):  3.5   ±0.3 se; Based on diet studies.
Resilience (Ref. 69278):  Low, minimum population doubling time 4.5 - 14 years (K=0.14; tm=4.7).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  Moderate to high vulnerability (51 of 100) .
low
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Low.