Dorosoma cepedianum
Dorosoma cepedianum
(Gizzard Shad)
Native Transplant
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Dorosoma cepedianum (Lesueur, 1818)

Common name: Gizzard Shad

Synonyms and Other Names: hickory shad

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Becker (1983); Whitehead (1985); Page and Burr (1991); Etnier and Starnes (1993).

Size: 52 cm.

Native Range: St. Lawrence-Great Lakes(?), Mississippi, Atlantic, and Gulf Slope drainages from Quebec to central North Dakota and New Mexico, and south to central Florida and Mexico (Page and Burr 1991).

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Native range data for this species provided in part by NatureServe NS logo
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: Gizzard shad were introduced into Arizona in the Colorado and Salt rivers, Colorado in the Arkansas, South Platte, and Republican drainages (Beckman 1952; Woodling 1985). The species is native to Illinois but has increased its range and abundance within the state due to construction of reservoirs (Smith 1979). They were stocked near Gary and in the Maumee River system, Indiana (Miller 1957). In Kansas, gizzard shad have been stocked in Fall River Reservoir, in sand pits along Prairie Dog Creek, and in Kirwin, Webster, and Cedar Bluff reservoirs (Cross 1967). They were stocked in Martin's Fork Lake and in other small impoundments above Cumberland Falls in Kentucky (Minckley and Krumholz 1960; Burr and Warren 1986); in several areas of Michigan including Lake Huron, Pine River and the Muskegon (Miller 1957); and in one or more unspecified areas (presumably the Platte River) of Nebraska (Bouc 1987). They have become established in the upper Rio Grande River in New Mexico (J. Wilbur, personal communication). It is unclear whether they are native to the Great Lakes or gained access through canals and rivers in New York such as the Mohawk River, Oswego River, Erie and Barge Canals (Smith 1985). Miller (1957) reviewed the evidence for native versus introduced status. Gizzard shad gained access to Lake Erie, Ohio, via the Ohio Canal and near the mouth of the Cuyahoga River at Cleveland (Jordan 1882; Miller 1957). Gizzard shad were accidentally stocked in Conowingo Pond, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (Denoncourt et al. 1975a) and in Raystown (Cooper 1983). They also were stocked in Utah (B. Schmidt, personal communication; Knowels 2002). They have expanded into Lake Champlain and the Connecticut River, Vermont (K. Cox, personal communication). They were stocked in Lake Anna, Smith Mountain Lake, and Kerr, Philpot, and Leesville reservoirs, Virginia (Jenkins and Burkhead 1994). Gizzard shad reached Lake Michigan, Wisconsin, either through the Chicago River Canal or the Fox-Wisconsin Canal at Portage (Becker 1983). The species has expanded its range into Wyoming from introductions into Nebraska (Baxter and Simon 1970), and from intentional stockings in the state east of the Continental Divide (Hubert 1994).

Means of Introduction: These fish were stocked intentionally for forage. The Wyoming populations also spread from introductions into Nebraska (Baxter and Simon 1970). In Pennsylvania, gizzard shad were stocked accidentally with American shad (Denoncourt et al. 1975a). In Vermont, they have expanded their range through the Connecticut River assisted by fishways that were constructed for American shad Alosa sapidissima and Atlantic salmon Salmo salar restoration (Cox, personal communication). They likely gained access to Lake Champlain through the Hudson Barge Canal that links the lake to the Hudson River (Cox, personal communication). They gained access to Lake Michigan through either the Chicago River Canal or the Fox-Wisconsin Canal (Becker 1983), and to Lake Erie through the Ohio Canal (Jordan 1882).
Gizzard shad gained access into the Colorado River in 2000 after some escaped Morgan Lake in NW New Mexico, where they were accidentally stocked with largemouth bass (Knowels 2002).  By early 2008, they were found as far downstream as the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Status: Established in many states.

Impact of Introduction: Competition for food between gizzard shad and other fish species may occur (Burns 1966; Moyle 1976). Jenkins (1994) found that gizzard shad directly compete with centrarchids resulting in decreased growth and size of the centrarchids. Aday et al. (2003) foud that gizzard shad caused reduced growth rates and maximum size in bluegill. In addition, Aday et al. (2003) found that gizzard shad can significantly increase phytoplankton levels, subsequently increasing turbidity and potentially impacting visual predators. Gizzard shad show tremendous invasion potential. After only two plantings totally 1020 fish in Lake Havasu, the species spread through the Colorado River from Davis Dam southward to the Mexican border, the Salton Sea, and associated irrigation ditches within only 18 months (Burns 1966).

Remarks: The gizzard shad has expanded its range naturally since the 1600s to include Massachusetts (O'Leary and Smith 1987; Hartel 1992). Jordan (1882) stated that the gizzard shad was not found in Lake Erie prior to completion of the Ohio Canal. Cold weather limits this species' northern range (Becker 1983). Propst and Carlson (1986) believe the gizzard shad may be native to the South Platte drainage in Colorado.

References: (click for full references)

Aday, D.D., R.J.H. Hoxmeier, and D.H. Wahl. 2003. Direct and indirect effects of gizzard shad on bluegill growth and population size structure. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 132:47-56.

Baxter, G. T., and J. R. Simon. 1970. Wyoming fishes. Wyoming Game and Fish Department Bulletin 4, Cheyenne, WY. 168 pp.

Beckman, W. C. 1952. Guide to the fishes of Colorado. University of Colorado Museum, Boulder, CO.

Bouc, K. 1987. The fish book. Nebraskaland Magazine 65(1):1-130.

Burns, J.W. 1966. Threadfin shad. Pages 481-488 in Calhoun, A, ed. Inland fisheries management. California Department of Fish and Game. Sacramento, CA.

Burr, B. M., and M. L. Warren, Jr. 1986. A distributional atlas of Kentucky fishes. Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission Scientific and Technical Series 4. 398 pp.

Cox, K. - Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, North Springfield, VT.

Cross, F. B. 1967. Handbook of Fishes of Kansas. State Biological Survey and University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, Miscellaneous Publication 45, Topeka, KS.

Denoncourt, R. F., T. B. Robbins, and R. Hesser. 1975a. Recent introductions and reintroductions to the Pennsylvania fish fauna of the Susquehanna River drainage above Conowingo Dam. Proceedings of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science 49:57-58.

Hartel, K. E. 1992. Non-native fishes known from Massachusetts freshwaters. Occasional Reports of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Fish Department, Cambridge, MA. 2. September. pp. 1-9.

Hubert, W. 1994. Exotic fish. Pages 158-174 in T. L. Parrish, and S. H. Anderson, editors. Exotic species manual. Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Laramie, WY.

Jenkins, R. E., and N. M. Burkhead. 1994. Freshwater fishes of Virginia. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.

Knowles, S. 2002. Fish and Wildlife blunders in Lake Powell. Salt Lake Tribune. 2002(27 August).

Miller, R. R. 1957. Origin and dispersal of the alewife, Alosa pseudoharengus, and the gizzard shad, Dorosoma cepecianum, in the Great Lakes. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 86:97-111.

Minckley, W. L., and L. A. Krumholz. 1960. Natural hybridization between the clupeid genera Dorosoma and Signalosa, with a report on the distribution of S. petenensis. Zoologica 44(4):171-180.

Moyle, P.B. 1976. Inland fishes of California. University of California Press Berkeley, CA.

O'Leary, J., and D. G. Smith. 1987. Occurrence of the first migration of the gizzard shad, (Dorosoma cepedianum), in the Connecticut River, Massachussetts. U.S. National Marine Service Fishery Bulletin 85(2):380-383.

Page, L. M., and B. M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. The Peterson Field Guide Series, volume 42. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

Schmidt, B. - Chief Fisheries Mangement, Division of Wildlife Resources, Salt Lake City, UT. Response to NBS-G non-indigenous questionaire. 1992.

Smith, C. L. 1985. The inland fishes of New York state. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY. 522 pp.

Smith, P. W. 1979. The fishes of Illinois. University of Illinois Press, Urbana, IL.

Wibur, J. - Bureau of Reclamation, Albuquerque, NM.

Woodling, J. 1985. Colorado's little fish: a guide to the minnows and other lesser known fishes in the state of Colorado. Colorado Division of Wildlife, Denver, CO. 77 pp.

FishBase Summary

Author: Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson

Revision Date: 4/12/2013

Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016

Citation Information:
Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson, 2018, Dorosoma cepedianum (Lesueur, 1818): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL,, Revision Date: 4/12/2013, Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016, Access Date: 1/24/2018

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2018]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [1/24/2018].

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