Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology

Schools of adults are found in marine waters, along the coast; also estuaries, tidal rivers and tributaries during late spring and early summer (Ref. 4639). Juveniles tend to leave nursery areas during summer (Ref. 4639). Feed on small fishes, also squid, small crabs and other crustaceans, as well as fish eggs. Spawn in tidal freshwater (Patuxent River, Chesapeake Bay in May) (Ref. 188), and return to the sea shortly after (Ref. 4639). Parasites found are nematodes, cestodes and trematodes (Ref. 37032).
  • 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)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=188&speccode=24 External link.
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Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)) Range encompasses the Atlantic coast from the Kenduskeag River, Maine (and possibly Campobello Island, New Brunswick) to the St. Johns River, northern Florida (Page and Burr 2011). The species is most common in the mid-Atlantic region (e.g., Chesapeake Bay, North Carolina).

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Northwestern Atlantic: along the coast from Maine to the St. John's River, Florida. Also in rivers.
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Range Description

Range encompasses the Atlantic coast from the Kenduskeag River, Maine (and possibly Campobello Island, New Brunswick) to the St. Johns River, northern Florida (Page and Burr 2011). The species is most common in the mid-Atlantic region (e.g., Chesapeake Bay, North Carolina).
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Western Atlantic: along the coast from Maine to the St. John's River, Florida. Also in rivers.
  • 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)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=188&speccode=24 External link.
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Western North Atlantic.
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Atlantic coast of North America from the Bay of Fundy to Florida.
  • Bigelow, H.B.and Schroeder,W.C.,1953 ; Whitehead, P.J.P., 1985 ; Jones, P.W., F.D. Martin and J.D. Hardy, Jr., 1978.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 15 - 20; Analspines: 0; Analsoft rays: 19 - 23; Vertebrae: 53 - 55
  • 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)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=188&speccode=24 External link.
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Size

Length: 45 cm

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Maximum size: 600 mm SL
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Max. size

60.0 cm SL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 188))
  • 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)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=188&speccode=24 External link.
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to 60 cm SL.
  • Bigelow, H.B.and Schroeder,W.C.,1953 ; Whitehead, P.J.P., 1985 ; Jones, P.W., F.D. Martin and J.D. Hardy, Jr., 1978.
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Diagnostic Description

Belly with distinct keel of scutes. Lower jaw very prominent, but not rising steeply within mouth; teeth reduced or in upper jaw absent in fishes over 23 cm standard length. A dark spot on shoulder, several obscure dark spots along flank (sometimes missing). Closely resembles A. chrysochloris which has stronger jaw teeth, no shoulder spot and the body depth less than head length (Ref. 188). Silvery, with a dark grayish green back (Ref. 7251).
  • 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)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=188&speccode=24 External link.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat Type: Freshwater

Comments: Adults live in saltwater except during the breeding season. Juveniles move from rivers to saltwater by fall or early winter; may linger in lower rivers, sounds, and bays before migrating to the sea. Spawning occurs as far as 200 km upstream from estuaries in creeks, ponds, lakes, and backwaters along major river courses (Manooch 1984), often in tidal freshwater areas.

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nektonic
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Schools of adults are found in marine waters, along the coast; also estuaries, tidal rivers and tributaries during late spring and early summer.
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Adults live in saltwater except during the breeding season. Juveniles move from rivers to saltwater by fall or early winter; may linger in lower rivers, sounds, and bays before migrating to the sea. Spawning occurs as far as 200 km upstream from estuaries in creeks, ponds, lakes, and backwaters along major river courses (Manooch 1984), often in tidal freshwater areas.

Systems
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
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Environment

pelagic-neritic; anadromous (Ref. 51243); freshwater; brackish; marine
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Depth range based on 32 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 12 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 9.5 - 148
  Temperature range (°C): 5.655 - 17.205
  Nitrate (umol/L): 1.034 - 13.953
  Salinity (PPS): 32.507 - 34.276
  Oxygen (ml/l): 5.471 - 6.494
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.314 - 1.208
  Silicate (umol/l): 1.861 - 12.603

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 9.5 - 148

Temperature range (°C): 5.655 - 17.205

Nitrate (umol/L): 1.034 - 13.953

Salinity (PPS): 32.507 - 34.276

Oxygen (ml/l): 5.471 - 6.494

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.314 - 1.208

Silicate (umol/l): 1.861 - 12.603
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Pelagic; freshwater; brackish; marine. Schooling adults occur along the coast, in estuaries, tidal rivers and tributaries during late spring and early summer.
  • Bigelow, H.B.and Schroeder,W.C.,1953 ; Whitehead, P.J.P., 1985 ; Jones, P.W., F.D. Martin and J.D. Hardy, Jr., 1978.
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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Migrates between coastal river spawning habitat and nonspawning marine waters.

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Anadromous. Fish that ascend rivers to spawn, as salmon and hilsa do. Sub-division of diadromous. Migrations should be cyclical and predictable and cover more than 100 km.
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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Eats small fishes, squid, fish eggs, and crustaceans.

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Euryhaline, entering brackish- and freshwater, anadromous. Feeds on fish, cephalopods, benthic invertebrates and zooplankton (Ref. 188).
  • 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)   http://www.fishbase.org/references/FBRefSummary.php?id=188&speccode=24 External link.
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Small fishes, squid, small crabs and other crustaceans, and fish eggs.
  • Bigelow, H.B.and Schroeder,W.C.,1953 ; Whitehead, P.J.P., 1985 ; Jones, P.W., F.D. Martin and J.D. Hardy, Jr., 1978.
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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 21 - 300

Comments: This species is represented by a large number of freshwater occurrences (subpopulations).

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Global Abundance

10,000 - 1,000,000 individuals

Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but presumably exceeds 10,000; this is the least common of the Atlantic coast Alosa (Page and Burr 2011).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Diet

Feed on small fishes, also squid, small crabs and other crustaceans, as well as fish eggs
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Reproduction

Spawns in late winter or spring (as early as February in the southern part of the range). Eggs and larvae drift with current. Juveniles move to salt water by fall or early winter. Sexually mature in 2-4 years. Repeat spawning in subsequent years is common in at least some rivers.

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Spawn in tidal freshwater, and return to the sea shortly after.
  • Bigelow, H.B.and Schroeder,W.C.,1953 ; Whitehead, P.J.P., 1985 ; Jones, P.W., F.D. Martin and J.D. Hardy, Jr., 1978.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Alosa mediocris

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 7
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure

Reasons: Large range in fresh water and salt water along Atlantic coast of North America; not abundant;

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
NatureServe

Reviewer/s
Smith, K. & Darwall, W.R.T.

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Least Concern in view of the fairly large range extent, evidence of improved habitat quality and increasing populations, increased access to spawning habitat, and other favourable management in much of the range.
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Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable to increase of 25%

Comments: Short-term trend is not well known but there is evidence that populations may be increasing in the core of the range.

Global Long Term Trend: Unknown

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Population

Population
This species is represented by a large number of freshwater occurrences (subpopulations).

Total adult population size is unknown but presumably exceeds 10,000; this is the least common of the Atlantic coast Alosa (Page and Burr 2011).

Short-term trend is not well known but there is evidence that populations may be increasing in the core of the range.

Population Trend
Increasing
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Threats

Comments: Although this species likely has been negatively affected by dams, water pollution, and other forms of riverine habitat degradation, no major threats are known at the present time, and management has improved habitat conditions for this and other anadromous herrings in many river systems.

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Major Threats
Although this species likely has been negatively affected by dams, water pollution, and other forms of riverine habitat degradation, no major threats are known at the present time, and management has improved habitat conditions for this and other anadromous herrings in many river systems.
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Not Evaluated
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Currently, this species is of relatively low conservation concern and does not require significant additional protection or major management, monitoring, or research actions.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Uses

Comments: This species is not commercially important, but it supports an increasing recreational fishery in the mid-Atlantic states.

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Importance

fisheries: minor commercial; price category: low; price reliability: reliable: based on ex-vessel price for this species
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Wikipedia

Hickory shad

Hickory shad (Alosa mediocris) is an member of the herring family Clupeidae, ranging along the East Coast of the United States from Florida to the Gulf of Maine. It is an anadromous fish species, meaning that it spawns in freshwater portions of rivers but spends most of its life at sea. It is subject to fishing, both historic and current, but it is often confused with or simply grouped together with catch statistics for American shad (Alosa sapidissima).

Contents

Distribution, habitat, and life history

Hickoryshad.jpg

Hickory shad ranges from northern Florida to the Gulf of Maine. The largest populations occur in Chesapeake Bay and coastal North Carolina (Munroe 2002). It is a schooling anadromous species that inhabits marine waters, probably never far from land. Adults enter estuaries and freshwater tributaries from the St. John's River, Florida, to the Patuxent River, Maryland,to spawn during the spring. Their oceanic movements are poorly documented (Hardy 1978; Cooper 1983; Rulifson 1994).

Spawning occurs from December to June, earliest in Florida and later with increasing latitude (Hardy 1978; Harris et al. 2007). The slightly adhesive and demersal eggs, approximately 1 mm in diameter, appear to be dispersed at random over gravel bars in moderate current. After water hardening, the eggs become semi-buoyant and develop as they drift along the bottom (Mansueti 1962; Hardy 1978; Cooper 1983). Fecundity ranges from 43,000 – 475,000 eggs per female, and, although the developmental stages of eggs, larvae, and juveniles have been described, little is known concerning the distribution, ecology, and growth rates of these early life stages (Mansueti 1962; Hardy 1978).

Hickory shad live to seven years (Harris et al. 2007). Both sexes mature at 2–4 years and can repeat spawn. Females are larger than males; in Florida, the average female is 37 cm fork length and the average male is 34 cm fork length (Harris et al. 2007).

Hickory shad are piscivorous, feeding primarily on small fishes, although crustaceans and squid contribute to their diet (Cooper 1983; Munroe 2002). One study showed that their diet on the spawning grounds was almost exclusively fish (97% by weight; Harris et al. 2007).

Recreational fishery

Hickory shad have a relatively low commercial value; however, there is an increasingly popular recreational fishery throughout the mid-Atlantic states. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, hickory shad articles appeared in sport fishing magazines. Headlines such as “the tough fighting hickory shad swarm near the rock-studded fall line…” (Sports Afield 1988), and “feast on Rappahannock River hickory shad action” (Field & Stream 1992) brought attention to the fishery. Subsequently, specialty magazines (Fly Fisherman 2002) and sports sections in national newspapers (i.e., The Washington Post, 1988, 2000) began proclaiming the excitement of hickory shad fishing (“HICKORY SHAD ARE RUNNING!”) and the recovery of the fishery. In the two most recent years of a North Carolina creel survey (2004-2005), hickory shad – a fish only present for two months of the year – moved from sixth to the fourth most targeted fish by coastal anglers (Murauskas and Mumford 2006).

Literature

Most information about this species is contained in federal and state documents and management plans or theses from universities. Federal publications include reports from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Shad and River Herring (ASMFC 1999; ASMFC 2001). Prominent publications by state agencies include reports based on fishery monitoring programs in Connecticut (Gephard and McMenemy 2004), Pennsylvania, Maryland (Chesapeake Bay Agreement 2000), North Carolina (NCDMF and NCWRC 2004), South Carolina, Georgia (Street and Adams 1969; Street 1969; Ulrich et al. 1979), and Florida (McBride 2000; Harris and McBride 2004; Harris et al. 2007; McBride and Holder 2008; McBride and Matheson 2011). A few publications address coast-wide and/or genus-level stock status and management issues (Rulifson 1994; Yako et al. 2002). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a useful series that includes egg, larvae, and juvenile development descriptions of hickory shad (Hardy 1978). A recent review of hickory shad in Chesapeake Bay places management of this species in an ecosystem context (Alosine Species Team, 2011). Three Master of Science theses include: Pate, 1972 (North Carolina State University), Batsavage, 1997 (East Carolina University), and Watkinson, 2004 (Virginia Commonwealth University).

Although hickory shad research has been limited, other clupeids, especially Alosa species in the United States, have received more attention (e.g., Limburg and Waldman 2003). American shad (A. sapidissima), which overlaps in distribution with hickory shad, has been frequently studied (Atkinson 1951; Dodson and Dohse 1984; Melvin et al. 1986; Quinn and Adams 1996; Leonard and McCormick 1999a, 1999b; Leonard et al. 1999; Waters et al. 2000; Limburg and Waldman 2003; McBride and Matheson 2011).

References

  • Alosine Species Team. (2011). Alosine Species Team Background and Issues Briefs. In: Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management for Chesapeake Bay.(http://www.mdsg.umd.edu/images/uploads/siteimages/00-Alosines_Briefs-FINAL.pdf)
  • Atkinson, C.E. 1951. Feeding habits of adult shad (Alosa sapidissima) in fresh water. Ecology 32(3):556-557.
  • ASMFC. 1999. Fisheries Management Report No. 35. Amendment 1 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Shad and River Herring. 1444 Eye St. NW, Washington, DC.
  • ASMFC. 2001. Review of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Fishery Management Plan for Shad and River Herring (Alosa sp.). 1444 Eye St. NW, Washington, DC.
  • Batsavage, C.F. 1997. Life history aspects of the hickory shad (Alosa mediocris) in the Albemarle Sound/Roanoke River Watershed, North Carolina. M.S. Thesis, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina.
  • Batsavage, C.F., and R.A. Rulifson. 1998. Life history aspects of the hickory shad (Alosa mediocris) in the Albemarle Sound/Roanoke River Watershed, North Carolina. Completion report for project M6057. North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, Morehead City, North Carolina.
  • Bentzen, P., W.C. Leggett, and G.G. Brown. 1993. Genetic relationships among the shads (Alosa) revealed by mitochondrial DNA analysis. Journal of Fish Biology 43:909-917.
  • Chesapeake Bay Agreement. 2000. The Renewed Bay Agreement. Retrieved May 26, 2006. http://dnrweb.dnr.state.md.us/bay/res_protect/c2k/index.asp.
  • Cooper, E.L. 1983. Fishes of Pennsylvania and the Northeastern United States. Penn State University Press, University Park and London. pp. 47–50.
  • Dodson, J.J. and L.A. Dohse. 1984. A model of olfactory-mediated conditioning of directional bias in fish migrating in reversing tidal currents based on the homing migration of American shad (Alosa sapidissima). pp. 263–281 in J.D. McCleave, G.P. Arnold, J.J. Dodson, and W.H. Neill, editors. Mechanisms of migration in fishes. Plenum Press, New York.
  • Field & Stream. April 1992. Feast on Rappahannock River hickory shad action. 96(12):70A.
  • Fly Fisherman. September 2002. Shad restoration continues. 33(6):27.
  • Gephard, S. and J. McMenemy. 2004. An overview of the program to restore Atlantic salmon and other diadromous fishes to the Connecticut River with notes on the current status of these species in the river. American Fisheries Society monograph No. 9, pp. 287–317.
  • Hardy, J.D. 1978. Development of fishes of the Mid-Atlantic bight: An atlas of egg, larval and juvenile stages; Acipenseridae through Ictaluridae. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Volume 1:75-88
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Formerly placed in genus Pomolobus. Forms a geographically separated species pair with A. chrysochloris (see Lee et al. 1980).

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