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Alabama shad
FMIB 33784 Ohio Shad.jpeg
Conservation status
Scientific classification

The Alabama shad (Alosa alabamae) is a species of clupeid fish endemic to the United States where it breeds in medium to large flowing rivers from the Mississippi River drainage to the Suwannee River, Florida, as well as some Gulf coast drainages. The biology and status of this fish is little known but it has become increasingly rare. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated it "data deficient" and the United States National Marine Fisheries Service has listed it as a Species of Concern. Reasons for its decline are thought mainly to be because of the many locks and dams blocking access for the fish to up-river spawning grounds.


The Alabama shad spawns in medium to large flowing rivers from the Mississippi River drainage to the Suwannee River, Florida. They are found in some Gulf coast drainages, but are thought to be extirpated from those drainages west of the Pascagoula River drainage in Mississippi.


Alabama shad are a schooling species. Within habitat types, they tend to select cooler water temperatures. Juveniles remain in fresh water for the first six to eight months of their lives, feeding on small fishes and invertebrates.


The biology of the species is not well known. Spawning usually occurs around 19-23 degrees Celsius in Gulf of Mexico drainages. Males seemingly weigh less than the females and mortality occurs after spawning as with numerous other species of the Alosa genus.


Although once abundant enough to support commercial fisheries in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana and Iowa, Alabama shad are now rare throughout much of their former range. At one point, Alosa alabamae were found in the Ohio River as well. The species is thought to have declined largely because of the many locks and dams blocking access to spawning areas and altering hydrology and river substrates

The Alabama shad is a U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service Species of Concern, one of those species about which the U.S. Government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has some concerns regarding status and threats, but for which insufficient information is available to indicate a need to list the species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). On April 20, 2010, a number of organizations submitted a petition to list the species as threatened or endangered under the ESA. On September 19, 2013, the National Marine Fisheries Service published a 90-day finding that listing under the ESA may be warranted and announced the initiation of a status review.

The IUCN Red List indicates this as a Data Deficient species, with insufficient information of the status. The American Fisheries Society lists it as threatened. Its NatureServe conservation status is Imperiled.

  • Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Alosa alabamae. FishBase. 2015.
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