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).
Environment / Climate / Range
Marine; freshwater; brackish; pelagic-neritic; anadromous (Ref. 51243); depth range ? - 300 m (Ref. 10536). Temperate; 61°N - 20°N, 17°W - 22°E
Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm 48.1, range 45 - 50 cm
Max length : 69.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 10536); 83.0 cm TL (female); common length : 40.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 2945); common length :70 cm TL (female); max. published weight: 4.0 kg (Ref. 30578); max. reported age: 10 years (Ref. 10536)
(total): 4 - 6;
soft rays: 18 - 24;
Vertebrae: 57 - 58. Body somewhat compressed, fairly deep with depth at pectoral fin more than head length (Ref. 188, Ref. 51442). Upper jaw notched, lower jaw fitting into it (Ref. 188). Gill rakers long, thin and numerous, longer than gill filaments (Ref. 188). Large, thin scales (Ref. 51442). Presence of abdominal scutes (Ref. 51442). Deep blue dorsally, becoming greenish brown or golden on the sides and silvery ventrally. A single dusky spot before the gill opening (sometimes absent) and occasionally 1-6 more dusky spots behind it (Refs. 188, 88187).
Eastern Atlantic: from southern Norway and along the coasts of Europe to northern Mauritania (Refs. 188, 51442), including the Western Baltic Sea up to the Kaliningrad Oblast (Refs. 12801, 26334) and the Western Mediterranean Sea (Ref. 188). Outside France this species is rare (Ref. 89646).
Listed in Appendix III of the Bern Convention (2002).
Listed in Annex II and V of the EC Habitats Directive (2007).
Amphihaline species, schooling and strongly migratory (Refs. 188, 59043). Adults are usually found in open waters along the coast (Ref. 51442). In freshwater, inhabits major rivers but may also enter tributaries, if water temperature is equal to or is warmer than the main river (Ref. 188, 10536). Known lake populations from Morocco and Portugal need access to rivers to spawn (Refs. 10536, 89647, 89648). Larvae and small juveniles inhabit deep slow-flowing areas of rivers (Ref. 89649), some swimming upstream in late summer and autumn (Ref. 10536). Juveniles (up to 1+ years) are usually found near estuaries or river mouths (Refs. 10536, 59043), possibly making vertical diurnal movements synchronized with the tides; they remain in estuaries for over one year (Ref. 89630). Feeds on a wide range of planktonic crustaceans; larger adults feed on small schooling fishes (Ref. 188, 51442, 59043). Juveniles in freshwater prey on insect larvae. Females in European rivers commonly reach 70 cm total length (Ref. 10536). Females grow faster and are always larger than males of the same age (Ref. 10536). Less common than Alosa fallax but both have suffered from pollution and weirs or other obstructions (Ref. 188). 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 with the twaite shad (Alosa fallax) has been reported from the Rhine (Ref. 89633) as well as from rivers in France and Algeria (Ref. 10536). Shad hybrids may reproduce (Ref. 27567). Marketed fresh and frozen; eaten sautéed, broiled, fried and baked (Ref. 9988).
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; gamefish: yes
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=0.00698 (-0.04331 - 0.05727), b=3.06 (3.05 - 3.08), based on LWR estimates for this species (Ref. 93245
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278
): 3.6 ±0.53 se; Based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 69278
): Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (K=0.19-0.29; tm=3.5; tmax=10).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Moderate vulnerability (36 of 100) .