Movement Patterns of American Shad Transported Upstream of Dams on the Roanoke River, North Carolina and Virginia

Publication Date



adult, Alosa sapidissima, American shad, dams, eggs, fecundity, habitat, hydroelectric, hydroelectric dams, pollution, regulated rivers, reservoirs, restoration, shad, spawning, survival, upstream, Virginia

Journal or Book Title

North American Journal of Fisheries Management


American shad Alosa sapidissima are in decline throughout much of their native range as a result of overfishing, pollution, and habitat alteration in coastal rivers where they spawn. One approach to restoration in regulated rivers is to provide access to historical spawning habitat above dams through a trap-and-transport program. We examined the initial survival, movement patterns, spawning, and downstream passage of sonic-tagged adult American shad transported to reservoir and riverine habitats upstream of hydroelectric dams on the Roanoke River, North Carolina and Virginia, during 2007-2009. Average survival to release in 2007-2008 was 85%, but survival decreased with increasing water temperature. Some tagged fish released in reservoirs migrated upstream to rivers; however, most meandered back and forth within the reservoir. A higher percentage of fish migrated through a smaller (8,215-ha) than a larger (20,234-ha) reservoir, suggesting that the population-level effects of transport may depend on upper basin characteristics. Transported American shad spent little time in upper basin rivers but were there when temperatures were appropriate for spawning. No American shad eggs were collected during weekly plankton sampling in upper basin rivers. The estimated initial survival of sonic-tagged American shad after downstream passage through each dam was 71-100%; however, only 1% of the detected fish migrated downstream through all three dams and many were relocated just upstream of a dam late in the season. Although adult American shad were successfully transported to upstream habitats in the Roanoke River basin, under present conditions transported individuals may have reduced effective fecundity and postspawning survival compared with nontransported fish that spawn in the lower Roanoke River







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