Present and Historical Spawning Grounds and Nurseries of American Shad, Alosa sapidissima, in the Delaware River

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adult, Alosa sapidissima, American shad, Delaware River, habitat, homing, light intensities, pool, riffle, shad, spawning, upstream, water quality

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Fishery Bulletin


Spawning occurs from late May into July but mainly in a 3-wk period from late May to mid-late June and ends progressively later proceeding upstream. Light intensity seemed to regulate when spawning began each day. Fish selected shallow riffle areas in preference to pool habitat for spawning. Except for the most grossly polluted tidal water, spawning and nursery areas now extend throughout fresh water of the main Delaware and into the East and West branches. The most important spawning grounds and nurseries are now located from Port Jervis, N.Y., to Hancock, N.Y., and extend into the lower East Branch; this has probably been the case since 1910-1920. There has been a fundamental upstream shift in the chief spawning grounds and nurseries since the decline of the Delaware River shad runs, because these historically extended downstream from about Delaware Water Gap, Pa., and included tidal water. Reasons for this shift suggest intrastream homing. Only a small proportion of the historical nursery now contributes to production. Nursery and spawning areas now contribute to production of adults in proportion to their distance from Philadelphia, Pa. The extent of the spawning and nursery area since about 1910-20 has probably expanded and contracted around a core area in the upper Delaware near Hancock. Future prospects of Delaware River shad depend upon water quality in the tidal area and the proposed Tocks Island dam. Extirpation of the remnant runs is a distinct possibility.







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