Invasion History

First Non-native North American Tidal Record: 1953
First Non-native West Coast Tidal Record: 1961
First Non-native East/Gulf Coast Tidal Record: 1953

General Invasion History:

Threadfin Shad (Dorosoma petenense) is native to the Mississippi and Gulf of Mexico drainages from Indiana and Illinois south to Guatemala (Page and Burr 1991). It may have been introduced to Gulf drainages east of the Mississippi River, and to the Florida peninsula in the first half of the 20th century (Fuller et al. 1999; USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2018). However, there is a museum specimens from the St. Johns River collected before 1877 (Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 2018). They were widely introduced as a forage fish to reservoirs in North America starting in 1950's (Carlander 1969). This was mainly due to the perceived need for a small, planktivorous prey fish to support stocked game fish in reservoirs, and some trial-and-error in matching prey and predators (Courtenay and Moyle 1989). They rapidly colonized estuaries in the southeastern US and the San Francisco Bay area, occasionally entering marine waters (Robins et al. 1986; Cohen and Carlton 1995; Dill and Cordone 1997). Tendencies for winter die-offs, 'boom and bust' population fluctuations, and unpredictable invasiveness has led to a decline in introductions in recent years (Courtenay and Moyle 1989; Jenkins and Burkhead 1993; Fuller et al. 1999).

North American Invasion History:

Invasion History on the West Coast:

In 1955 Threadfin Shad were stocked into Lake Havasu, Arizona. From there, the fish spread throughout the lower Colorado to River to the Mexican border. In 1959, they were introduced to reservoirs in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River system and reached the Delta and San Francisco Bay by 1961 (Cohen and Carlton 1995; Dill and Cordone 1997). By 1967, Threadfin Shad had become one of the most abundant fishes in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Dill and Cordone 1997). They have occasionally been captured in marine waters of the San Francisco Bay and adjacent coast, as far north as Yaquina Bay Oregon, and south of Long Beach (Miller 1972; Krygier et al. 1973; Lee et al. 1980; Eschmeyer et al. 1983). Additional reports have come from tributaries of Monterey Bay (Elkhorn Slough, Salinas and Pajoro Rivers) and from the Santa Clara River in Ventura County (Kukowski 1972; Yoakavich et al. 1991; USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2018), so it is possible that additional California rivers have been colonized.

Their population has gone through a series of peaks and crashes in the last 40 years, and dropped sharply after 2002, reaching a record low in 2012 (Feyrer et al. 2009; Latour et al. 2016). The decline of threadfin shad has been treated as part of the general phenomenon termed 'Pelagic Organism Decline', due in part to watershed modifications and the removal of phytoplankton by the invasive Asian Brackishwater Clam (Corbula amurensis) (Sommer et al. 2007; Mac Nally et al. 2010; Thomson et al. 2010). However, in a 2014 survey in the Delta, Threadfin Shad and Mississippi Silverside (Menidia audens together constituted 43% of the nekton biomass (Feyrer et al. 2016).

Invasion History on the East Coast:

Threadfin Shad was collected in the St. Johns River before 1877 and again in the 1940s, so it may be native in that system (Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 2018; USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2018). Introductions were made in the 1950s in the Altamaha River (Georgia), the Roanoke River and Back Bay-Currituck Sound (Virginia-North Carolina), the Potomac River probably in many other southeastern Atlantic states. Threadfin Shad were found in coastal waters in Georgia as early as the 1950s, and by the 1970s had been found in coastal and estuarine waters from Maryland to Florida (Lee et al. 1980; Lee et al. 1981; Jenkins and Burkhead 1993; USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2018). They’ve also been caught in upper Chesapeake Bay, in the Rhode River and Aberdeen (Lee et 1980; Rob Aguilar, personal communication 2012). This fish is likely to expand its range with climate change.

Invasion History in Hawaii:

One source reports introductions of Threadfin Shad to the Hawaiian Islands in 1905 (Devick 1991, cited by USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2018), but other authors give the date as 1958 (Maciolek 1984; Randall 1987). It has become well-established in freshwater reservoirs on Oahu, Kauai, and Maui, but does not seem to have entered estuaries or marine habitats. In the Hawaiian Islands where they were established, an attempt was made in the 1960s-70s to acclimate large numbers of Threadfin shad to salt-water ponds so that they could be used as bait for the Skipjack Tuna (Euthynnus pelamis) fishery. This was unsuccessful, because this herring species did not tolerate the extensive handling involved in use as bait (Randall 1987).

Invasion History Elsewhere in the World:

Threadfin Shad were introduced as forage fish to reservoirs in Puerto Rico in 1963, and now are found in many reservoirs on the island USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2018).


Description

Threadfin Shad (Dorosoma petenense) is a fish of the herring family (Clupeidae), predominantly occurring in freshwater, but also entering estuarine and marine waters. Its body is streamlined, but deep and laterally compressed. There is a single soft-rayed dorsal fin, with the last ray prolonged into a long filament, a soft-rayed anal fin, and the pelvic fins are abdominal. There are 11-14 dorsal rays, and 17-27 anal rays. The tail is deeply forked. The scales are large and easily loosened. The belly is keeled with 14-15 prominent bony scutes. Adult fish can reach 230 mm. The body is dark greenish or bluish dorsally, and bright silver on the sides, with a dark spot on the rear of the gill cover, and one or two rows of dusky lateral stripe below it (Miller1972; Eschmeyer and Herald 1983; Robins et al. 1986; Murdy et al. 1997).

Jones et al. (1978) and Wang (1985) describe developmental stages.


Taxonomy

Taxonomic Tree

Kingdom:   Animalia
Phylum:   Chordata
Subphylum:   Vertebrata
Superclass:   Osteichthyes
Class:   Actinopterygii
Subclass:   Neopterygii
Infraclass:   Teleostei
Superorder:   Clupeomorpha
Order:   Clupeiformes
Suborder:   Clupeoidei
Family:   Clupeidae
SubFamily:   Dorosomatinae
Genus:   Dorosoma
Species:   petenense

Synonyms

Chatoessus mexicanus (Günther, 1868)
Meletta petenensis (Günther, 1867)
Signalosa atchafalayae (Evermann & Kendall, 1898)
Signalosa atchafalayae campi (Weed, 1925)
Signalosa atchafalayae vanhyningi (Weed, 1925)
Signalosa petenense (None, None)

Potentially Misidentified Species

Dorosoma cepedianum
Dorosoma cepedianum (Gizzard Shad) is a predominantly freshwater species, also entering seawater. It is native from southern New England, the Great Lakes, and the upper Mississippi and Missouri basins to the Gulf. Gizzard Shad are larger (to 550 mm) than Threadfin Shad and deeper-bodied (Page and Burr 1991; Murdy et al. 1997).

Opisthonema medirostrum
Opisthonema oglinum (Middling Thread Herring) is strictly marine, and quite similar to Threadfin Shad, with a filamentous last dorsal ray, but lacking a spot behind the gill cover. It ranges from southern California to Peru (Miller 1972).

Opisthonema oglinum
Opisthonema oglinum (Atlantic Thread Herring) is strictly marine, and quite similar, with a filamentous last dorsal ray, but with a larger dark spot behind the gill cover and 6-7 lateral stripes (Robins et al. 1986).

Ecology

General:

Threadfin Shad (Dorosoma petenense) is primarily a freshwater resident, with most populations occurring in freshwater, but adults frequently disperse through estuaries and marine waters (Jones et al. 1978; Page and Burr 1991; Fuller et al. 1999). Sexes are separate. Adults mature in 1-3 years at 49-55 mm. Female fecundity ranges from 800-21,000 eggs, increasing with size. Spawning occurs twice a year, in spring and fall, at temperatures of 14 to 27 C. In the San Francisco Bay Delta, spawning occurs mostly in April and May (Wang 1986). Spawning occurs at night in fresh or 'almost fresh water', in open water, or over vegetation and coarse wood debris (Jones et al. 1978). Eggs sink and adhere to vegetation, rocks, and sticks (Wang 1986). Eggs hatch in 3 days at 27 C, or longer at lower temperatures (Jones et a1. 1978). The newly hatched yolk-sac larva is ~5 mm long and strongly elongated. The larvae are planktonic. By the time the fish reaches 25 mm, it is a juvenile approaching the adult body shape (Wang 1986).

Threadfin Shad have many landlocked populations, but they are highly mobile, dispersing along rivers, entering estuaries, and dispersing along coastlines. However, they require fresh water for spawning and early development (Jones et al. 1978; Dill and Cordone 1997). Juveniles often move into brackish water, up to 15.5 PSU, but are most common in fresh and lower-salinity water. Adults have been collected at salinities of 32 PSU, probably higher (Jones et al. 1976). As a species with a warm-temperate subtropical range, populations at the northern edge of its range in reservoirs are often subject to diebacks, as in Virginia reservoirs, and the San Francisco estuary (Jenkins and Burkhead 1993; Dill and Cordone 1997). River and coastal populations can avoid low temperatures by migration. Threadfin Shad are pelagic fish, usually moving in large schools. They are planktivorous, filter-feeding on phytoplankton, copepods, and plant detritus (Murdy et al. 1997; Feyrer et al. 2003; Froese and Pauly 2018). As a small fish, low in the food chain, they have a wide range of predators. In the San Francisco estuary delta, Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis), is the major predator, but Threadifn Shad are also eaten by Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) and the native Sacramento Pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus grandis) (Nobriga and Feyrer 2007). Likely predators in Atlantic estuaries include Striped Bass (native), Largemouth Bass and introduced Blue Catfish.

Food:

Phytoplankton, Zooplankton, Detritus

Consumers:

Predatory fishes

Trophic Status:

Suspension Feeder

SusFed

Habitats

General HabitatFresh (nontidal) MarshNone
General HabitatGrass BedNone
General HabitatNontidal FreshwaterNone
General HabitatTidal Fresh MarshNone
General HabitatUnstructured BottomNone
General HabitatSalt-brackish marshNone
Tidal RangeSubtidalNone
Vertical HabitatNektonicNone


Tolerances and Life History Parameters

Minimum Temperature (ºC)5Field Data- Winter die-offs have been reported at temperatures of 1-7 C (Jones et al. 1978).
Maximum Temperature (ºC)34.9Field Data- (Jones et al. 1978)
Minimum Salinity (‰)0Field Data- (Jones et al. 1978)
Maximum Salinity (‰)32.3Field Data- (Jones et al. 1978)
Minimum Reproductive Temperature14.4Field Data- (Jones et al. 1978)
Maximum Reproductive Temperature27.2Field Data- (Jones et al. 1978)
Minimum Reproductive Salinity0Field Data- (Jones et al. 1978)
Maximum Reproductive Salinity1Field Data- (Jones et al. 1978)
Minimum Length (mm)52Jones et al. 1978
Maximum Length (mm)220but more usually 100 mm (Robins et al. 1986; Froese and Pauly 2018)

General Impacts

Threadfin Shad (Dorosoma petenense) has been widely stocked as a forage fish, because of its small size and planktivorous, pelagic habits, making it a potential prey for popular game fishes. Threadfin Shad have been considered a successful introduction overall, but negative impacts include their unexpected ability to disperse over long distances and colonize new habitats, tendency for dramatic population fluctuations, die-offs due to cold weather, and competition with larval and juvenile, gamefish and endangered species (Courtenay and Moyle 1989; Crowl and Boxrucker 1988; Guest et al. 1990; Dill and Cordone 1997). After its introduction to reservoirs in the Sacramento-San Joaquin watershed in 1959, Threadfin Shad colonized the San Francisco Bay estuary, becoming the most abundant fish in the system by 1967 (Feyrer et al. 2009). Impacts of Threadfin Shad on Atlantic Coast estuaries have not been well-studied, but statistical analyses indicate that they affect the abundance of native clupeids in Chesapeake Bay tidal rivers (Herbert Austin, pers. comm. 1998).

Economic Impacts

Fisheries- Threadfin Shad was widely stocked in reservoirs throughout the southern and central US in the 1950s, as a prey species to support stocked populations of popular game fishes such as such as Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides), Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis), Crappies (Pomoxis spp.), and Striped Bass-White Bass hybrids (Morone saxatilis X chrysops). In the San Francisco estuary, it became important as the primary prey of the Striped Bass, the system's major gamefish (Feyrer et al. 2009). The introductions were generally considered successful, but some problems were noted. Rapidly growing populations of Threadfin Shad could outrun their predators, and the dense populations of this planktivorous fish could out-compete the larvae and juveniles of the gamefish (Crowl and Boxrucker 1988; Guest et al. 1990; Hirst and DeVries 1994). In addition, Threadfin Shad turned out to be unexpectedly mobile, colonizing rivers, reservoirs, and estuaries far beyond their intended range (Dill and Cordone 1997). This fish was also sensitive to low winter temperatures, and suffered diebacks and extinctions in Virginia, North Carolina, and other borderline southern states (Jenkins and Burkhead 1994; Fuller et al. 1999).

Ecological Impacts

Competition- Threadfin Shad (Dorosoma petenense) is a pelagic, planktivorous fish, feeding on phytoplankton, cladocerans and copepods. As such, it is a potential competitor with native, small, planktivorous fishes, and the larvae and juveniles of larger fishes. In the San Francisco estuary, its diet overlaps with the endangered native endemic Delta Smelt (Hypomesus transpacifius), whose population is declining. Both species feed largely on planktonic copepods (Feyrer et al. 2003). Shad can also adversely affect sportfish recruitment by altering the abundance and size structure of zooplankton, reducing food availability. Threadfin Shad adversely affected the recruitment of White Crappie (Pomoxis annularis) in Oklahoma reservoirs, but similar effects on juveniles of other sport fishes and adults of planktivores such as Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) are quite likely (Crowl and Boxrucker 1988; Guest et al. 1990). Possible competition between larvae of D. petenense and Micropterus spp. (M. salmoides, Largemouth Bass, and M. punctulatus, Spotted Bass) was studied in two Alabama reservoirs. Some diet overlap between bass and shad larvae was found, but was judged to be insignificant, given bass' preference for larger prey, and the high zooplankton abundances during the larval period (Hirst and DeVries 1994).

Food/Prey- Threadfin Shad was widely stocked as a forage fish because of its small size, planktonic feeding, and rapid reproduction (Courtenay and Moyle 1989; Dill and Cordone 1997). In different reservoirs, it was stocked as food for Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides), Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis), Crappies (Pomoxis spp., and Striped Bass-White Bass hybrids (Morone saxatilis X chrysops) (Crowl and Boxrucker 1988; Guest et al. 1990; Hirst and DeVries 1994). In the San Francisco estuary, the major predators of Threadfin Shad were the native Sacramento Pike Minnow (Ptychocheilus grandis) and the introduced Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis) and Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) (Nobriga and Feyrer 2007; Nobriga and Feyrer 2008; Feyrer et al. 2009). In Atlantic estuaries, Striped Bass and Largemouth Bass are likely predators of Threadfin Shad.

Regional Impacts

NEP-VNorthern California to Mid Channel IslandsEcological ImpactCompetition
Threadfin Shad in the San Francisco Bay Delta showed a close dietary overlap (primarily planktonic copepods) with the endangered Delta Smelt (Hypomesus transpacifricus (Feyerer et al. 2003).
NEP-VNorthern California to Mid Channel IslandsEcological ImpactFood/Prey
Threadfin Shad in the San Francisco Bay Delta were a major prey item for Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis), Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) and Sacramento Pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus grandis) (Nobriga and Feyrer 2007; Nobriga and Feyrer 2008; Feyrer et al. 2009)
P090San Francisco BayEcological ImpactCompetition
Threadfin Shad in the San Francisco Bay Delta showed a close dietary overlap (primarily planktonic copepods) with the endangered Delta Smelt (Hypomesus transpacifricus (Feyrer et al. 2003).
P090San Francisco BayEcological ImpactFood/Prey
Threadfin Shad in the San Francisco Bay Delta were a major prey item for Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis), Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) and Sacramento Pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus grandis) (Nobriga and Feyrer 2007; Nobriga and Feyrer 2008; Feyrer et al. 2009)
P090San Francisco BayEconomic ImpactFisheries
Threadfin Shad were stocked in the San Francisco Bay Delta as a forage fish for introduced gamefish, especially Striped and Largemouth Bass. Although it has undergone recent declines, it still supports major sport fisheries for Striped Bass and Largemouth Bass (Dill and Codone 1997; Feyrer et al. 2009).
NEP-VNorthern California to Mid Channel IslandsEconomic ImpactFisheries
Threadfin Shad were stocked in the San Francisco Bay Delta watershed as a forage fish for introduced gamefish, especially Striped and Largemouth Bass. Although it has undergone recent declines, it still supports major sport fisheries for Striped Bass and Largemouth Bass (Dill and Codone 2007; Feyrer et al. 2009).

Regional Distribution Map

Bioregion Region Name Year Invasion Status Population Status
CAR-I Northern Yucatan, Gulf of Mexico, Florida Straits, to Middle Eastern Florida 0 Native Estab
CAR-VII Cape Hatteras to Mid-East Florida 1953 Def Estab
NEP-V Northern California to Mid Channel Islands 1961 Def Estab
NEP-IV Puget Sound to Northern California 1970 Def Unk
NEP-VI Pt. Conception to Southern Baja California 1970 Def Unk
NA-ET3 Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras 1953 Def Estab
S180 St. Johns River 1877 Crypto Estab
G070 Tampa Bay 1963 Crypto Estab
P050 San Pedro Bay 1962 Def Unk
M130 Chesapeake Bay 1953 Def Estab
S190 Indian River 1954 Crypto Estab
S010 Albemarle Sound 1953 Def Estab
S020 Pamlico Sound 1991 Def Estab
S050 Cape Fear River 0 Def Estab
S056 _CDA_S056 (Northeast Cape Fear) 1974 Def Estab
S060 Winyah Bay 1974 Def Estab
S070 North/South Santee Rivers 1974 Def Estab
S076 _CDA_S076 (South Carolina Coastal) 1974 Def Estab
S080 Charleston Harbor 1974 Def Estab
S090 Stono/North Edisto Rivers 1974 Def Estab
S100 St. Helena Sound 1974 Def Estab
S110 Broad River 1974 Def Estab
S120 Savannah River 1968 Def Estab
S130 Ossabaw Sound 1961 Def Estab
S140 St. Catherines/Sapelo Sounds 1961 Def Estab
S125 _CDA_S125 (Ogeechee Coastal) 1961 Def Estab
G045 _CDA_G045 (Big Cypress Swamp) 1952 Crypto Estab
G050 Charlotte Harbor 0 Crypto Estab
S196 _CDA_S196 (Cape Canaveral) 0 Crypto Estab
S175 _CDA_S175 (Nassau) 1976 Def Estab
G074 _CDA_G074 (Crystal-Pithlachascotee) 0 Crypto Estab
S200 Biscayne Bay 1987 Crypto Estab
G100 Apalachicola Bay 1950 Crypto Estab
G120 Choctawhatchee Bay 0 Crypto Estab
G130 Pensacola Bay 1959 Crypto Estab
G150 Mobile Bay 0 Crypto Estab
G240 Calcasieu Lake 0 Native Estab
G220 Atchafalaya/Vermilion Bays 0 Native Estab
G250 Sabine Lake 0 Native Estab
G260 Galveston Bay 0 Native Estab
G300 Aransas Bay 0 Native Estab
G330 Lower Laguna Madre 0 Native Estab
G170 West Mississippi Sound 0 Native Estab
CAR-II None 0 Native Estab
P080 Monterey Bay 1972 Def Estab
P090 San Francisco Bay 1961 Def Estab
P100 Drakes Estero 0 Def Unk
P130 Humboldt Bay 1970 Def Unk
P210 Yaquina Bay 1972 Def Unk
GL-I Lakes Huron, Superior and Michigan 2018 Def Unk

Occurrence Map

OCC_ID Author Year Date Locality Status Latitude Longitude

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