status: Endangered, IUCN
range: USA (Alabama)
Description and biology
The Alabama shad spawns (lays its eggs) in rivers but spends some part of its life living in the ocean. It is a silvery-green fish that measures about 20 inches (51 centimeters) in adulthood. Females are larger than males. It has a distinctive pointed snout with a lower jaw jutting out from inside the mouth. It has 42 to 48 gill rakers, which are bony projections that point forward and inward from the gill raker arches to aid in the fish's feeding. (Gill raker arches are bony arches in the throat of fish to which the gill rakers are attached—bony fish usually have four gill arches.)
Alabama shad travel in schools. In the winter and spring, when the water temperatures are cool, the shad travel up rivers and streams to spawn. They prefer to spawn over sand, gravel, or rocky surfaces in a moderate current. The male and female will leave the area after the spawning is complete. The young remain in the stream for several months. The Alabama shad's life span is about six years.
Habitat and current distribution
The Alabama shad spawns in medium- and large-sized rivers. It can be found in the eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico, from the Mississippi delta east to the Choctawhatchee River in Florida and also in the Cumberland, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Ouachita, and Red rivers. The largest existing population occurs in the Apalachicola River in northwest Florida. The exact population of this species is unknown.
History and conservation measures
The decline in the population of Alabama shad began with overfishing in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Other human-related threats began to disturb the shad's life cycle as the twentieth century progressed. Particularly damaging was poor water quality due to commercial and navigational dredging (digging up the bottom) of the sand bars that the shad use for spawning. However, the greatest cause of decline in the Alabama shad population in Alabama is the series of dams built in the Alabama and Tombigbee rivers. These dams block the fish from their travels to spawn in the Mobile Basin, the region where the two rivers drain in Alabama.
Recovery programs for the Alabama shad are not yet underway, and the fish was not listed under the Endangered Species Act as of the early 2000s, despite its endangered status on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was creating a status report on the Alabama shad, hoping to begin action to protect the species.
"Shad, Alabama." Endangered Species. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 20, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/shad-alabama
"Shad, Alabama." Endangered Species. . Retrieved September 20, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/shad-alabama
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.