Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Clupeiformes
(Herrings) > Clupeidae
(Herrings, shads, sardines, menhadens)
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).
5 subspecies known.
Environment / Climate / Range
Marine; freshwater; brackish; pelagic-neritic; anadromous (Ref. 51243); depth range ? - 300 m (Ref. 10541). Temperate; 70°N - 27°N, 25°W - 42°E
Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm 32.5  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 60.0 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 35388); common length : 40.0 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 2945); max. published weight: 1.5 kg (Ref. 188); max. reported age: 25 years (Ref. 556)
(total): 4 - 6;
soft rays: 16 - 22;
Vertebrae: 55 - 59. Body slightly compressed, fairly deep with scutes along belly. Upper jaw notched, lower jaw fitting into it (Ref. 188). 31-50 (rarely up to 60) thick gill rakers on the lower arc (Ref. 59043). Large, thin scales (Ref. 51442). Deep blue dorsally, becoming greenish brown or golden on the sides and silvery ventrally. A dark spot posterior to gill opening followed by 6-10 similar spots (sometimes faint or absent) along flank (Refs. 188, 88187). Also Ref. 2196.
Northeast Atlantic: from the British Isles and southern Norway to Morocco, including the Baltic, Mediterranean and Black Seas (Refs. 188, 26334, 51442)). Several subspecies have been recognized based on the number of gill rakers and geographical location (Ref. 10541) and some have since been given species-status (Ref. 59043).
Listed in Appendix III of the Bern Convention (2002).
Listed in Annex II and V of the EC Habitats Directive (2007).
Amphihaline species (Ref. 51442), schooling and strongly migratory (Ref. 188). Adults are usually found in open waters along the coast (Refs. 59043, 89486); juveniles are usually found along estuaries and near the shore (Ref. 59043), possibly making vertical diurnal movements synchronized with the tides; they remain in estuaries for over one year (Ref. 89630). Migrates to major rivers to spawn; also reported to spawn in small rivers. Several landlocked (lake) non-migratory populations exist (Ref. 10541). Ichthyophagous, feeds on small fishes and crustaceans, the young taking the fry of herrings, sprats and gobies (Ref. 188, Ref. 51442). Females grow faster and are always larger than males of the same age (Ref. 10541). Very locally distributed due to pollution and impoundment of large rivers throughout Europe and most populations declined during the first decade of the 20th century, but seem to have stabilized at a low level since then (Ref. 59043). It has been suggested that members of the genus Alosa are hearing specialists with the American shad (Alosa sapidissima) having been found to detect and respond to sounds up to at least 180 kHz (Ref. 89631). This may aid in predator avoidance (e.g. cetaceans) (Ref. 89632). Hybridization between this species and the allis shad (Alosa alosa) has been reported from the Rhine (Ref. 89633) as well as rivers in France and Algeria (Ref. 10541). There is some evidence that indicates that shad hybrids may reproduce (Ref. 27567).
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.
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 90363)
Threat to humans
Fisheries: minor commercial
ReferencesAquacultureAquaculture profileStrainsGeneticsAllele frequenciesHeritabilityDiseasesProcessingMass conversion
Estimates of some properties based on empirical models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.5000 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00583 (-0.03852 - 0.05018), b=3.06 (3.04 - 3.07), based on LWR estimates for this species (Ref. 93245
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278
): 3.6 ±0.60 se; Based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 69278
): Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (K=0.21-0.38; tm=2-7; tmax=25; Fec>10,000).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Moderate to high vulnerability (50 of 100) .