Dorosoma petenense
Dorosoma petenense
(Threadfin Shad)
Native Transplant
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Dorosoma petenense (Günther, 1867)

Common name: Threadfin Shad

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Etnier and Starnes (1993); Moyle (1976a); Whitehead (1985); Page and Burr (1991).

Size: 23 cm.

Native Range: Native range of the threadfin shad is somewhat debated. Before 1945, the threadfin shad was found only in rivers and streams flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, from Florida to Mexico (Forbes and Richardson, 1920; Smith, 1979). Later, its range expanded northward (Trautman, 1981). In 1948, thread - fin shad were discovered in impoundments of the Tennessee River (Tennessee Valley Authority, 1954), and in 1957 the first Illinois specimens were collected from tributaries of the Ohio River (Minckley and Krumholz, 1960). An alternative opinion is that the threadfin shad was originally found as far south as Belize and was distributed northward into Gulf States as well as states bordering the lower Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, including Illinois and Missouri (Page and Burr, 1991) [quoted from Irons et al. 2009].

Given the fact that they were stocked in the Tennessee River and were able to migrate from there, and the fact that there are no early records, we consider it not-native to areas upstream of the lower Tennessee River (on both the Tennessee and the Mississippi and Ohio rivers). Many of the areas of Arkansas are also questionable. The earliest record for the state is 1955 despite a fair amount of sampling in the state (as depicted by

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Puerto Rico &
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Guam Saipan
Native range data for this species provided in part by NatureServe NS logo
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: Threadfin shad have been stocked in the Cahaba, Coosa, and Tallapoosa rivers, and in the Tennessee drainage, Alabama (Lee et al. 1980 et seq.; Swift et al. 1986; Boschung 1992) and perhaps in Big Creek Lake, a municipal reservoir of Mobile (Mettee et al. 1996); the upper White River, Arkansas (Pflieger 1975; Lee et al. 1980 et seq.); many Arizona lakes and rivers (Haskell 1959; Miller and Lowe 1967; Minckley 1973; Tyus et al. 1982; Tilmant 1999), established in Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge in LaPaz County (USFWS 2005); throughout California (La Rivers 1962; Moyle 1976a, 1976b; Moyle and Randall 1999; Dill and Cordone 1997; Sommer et al. 2001; Matern et al. 2002); Valmont Reservoir, the Platte drainage, and the San Luis Valley of Colorado (Zuckerman and Behnke 1986; Woodling 1985; Walker 1993; Rasmussen 1998); Coursey Pond, Delaware (Raasch and Altemus 1991); Gulf drainages in the panhandle, and peninsular Florida (Finucane 1965; Gilbert and Williams, unpublished manuscript); the Savannah, Ogeechee, Altamaha, Etowah, Upper Oconee, and Apalachicola drainages and coastal areas in Georgia (Miller and Jorgenson 1969; Dahlberg and Scott 1971a, 1971b; Swift et al. 1986; Burkhead et al. 1997); Hawaii on several of the major islands (Brock 1960; Burns 1966b; Maciolek 1984; Mundy 2005); the Ohio, Wabash, and Mississippi rivers in Illinois, and southern Illinois reservoirs (Smith 1979; Burr 1991); Missouri River in Iowa (Bernstein 2001);  Kansas (where stocking failed) (Cross 1967; Cross et al. 1986); Kentucky (Minckley and Krumholz 1960; Clay 1975; Burr and Page 1986; Burr and Warren 1986); the Potomac River in Maryland (Lee et al. 1980 et seq.); the upper White River, lower Missouri drainage, Montrose Lake in Henry County, and other lakes in of Missouri (Pflieger 1975; Lee et al. 1980 et seq.; Cross et al. 1986); Nebraska (Bouc 1987); in the San Juan, Canadian, Pecos, and Rio Grande drainages of New Mexico (Sublette et al. 1990); Nevada (La Rivers 1962; Bradley and Deacon 1967; Minckley 1973; Moyle 1976a; Deacon and Williams 1984; Tilmant 1999; Vinyard 2001; Courtenay 1983); many drainages in North Carolina (Hocutt et al. 1986; Menhinick 1991; Jenkins and Burkhead 1994); Ohio (Moyle 1976a); the Canadian drainage, Fort Gibson and several other lakes in Oklahoma (Miller and Robison 1973; Cross et al. 1986); Oregon as far north as Yaquina Bay, where they have even spread from stockings in California (Lee et al. 1980 et seq.); Pennsylvania (Cooper 1983); Lake Jocassee, Lake Keowee, Savannah River drainage, Saluda River drainage, Congaree River, Broad River, Cooper River, Edisto River, Santee River, and Pee Dee River drainages in South Carolina (Lee et al. 1980 et seq.; Hocutt et al. 1986; Rohde et al. 2009); the Ohio River, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) impoundments, Dale Hollow, and Center Hill reservoirs in Tennessee (Clay 1975); Grayson and Red River Counties in Texas (Red River Authority 2001); the Colorado River; Arches and Canyonlands National Park, and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Utah (Tyus et al. 1982; Tilmant 1999); the Potomac River and other areas in Virginia (Moyle 1976a; Lee et al. 1980 et seq.; Hocutt et al. 1986; Jenkins and Burkhead 1994); and the Potomac River and possibly the lower Kanawha and Ohio drainages of West Virginia (Lee et al. 1980 et seq.; Hocutt et al. 1986; Stauffer et al. 1995).

The threadfin shad has been introduced into several reserviors in Puerto Rico (Erdsman 1984; Lee 1983).

Ecology: Prefers lakes, ponds, rivers, reservoirs and estuaries, but does not endure cold water (7-14°C).  Spawning occurs often before one year of age over vegetation or logs in open water at 21°C.

Means of Introduction: It is unknown whether the populations on the east coast of Georgia resulted from past stocking or from dispersal through estuarine waters (Miller and Jorgenson 1969; Dahlberg and Scott 1971b). Populations in other locations were intentionally stocked as forage.

Status: Canadian River population possibly extirpated (Sublette et al. 1990). Populations in several West Virginia lakes extirpated by cold weather (Stauffer et al. 1995). Probably not established in the Platte drainage of Colorado (Walker 1993). Introduced and abundant in reservoirs of the Colorado River (Deacon and Williams 1984). Starnes et al. (2011) report that it is likely extirpated from the Potomac River system. Established in other areas.

Impact of Introduction: Concern exists regarding possible impacts on other fish species with planktonic larvae, such as minnows and suckers, and on young centrarchids. Dill and Cordone (1997) stated that threadfin compete with young centrarchids for food and that they have destroyed kokanee fishing in some areas. Population increases and crashes of threadfin shad caused diet shifts from zooplankton to zoobenthos, as well as an increase in tissue mercury content due to benthic foraging, in several species of zooplanktivorous fishes (inland silverside; young-of-year largemouth bass and bluegill) in Clear Lake, California (Eagles-Smith et al. 2008).

Remarks: Stock introduced into the Colorado River was from the Tennessee River (Minckley 1973). Dill and Cordone (1997) gave the history of the introduction of this species into California. Although Lee et al. (1980 et seq.) listed the species as native to Florida, Gilbert (personal communication) believes there is a considerable amount of circumstantial evidence to indicate that this species is not native east of the Mississippi River, but was introduced as a forage fish beginning in the early 1900s. Gilbert cites the fact that there are no published records of the species east of the Mississippi River prior to the 1940s. Expansion of the range of this species during the past half century likely resulted from a combination of natural range extension and human introduction (Gilbert, personal communication).

References: (click for full references)

Boschung, H. T. 1992. Catalogue of freshwater and marine fishes of Alabama. Alabama Museum of Natural History Bulletin 14:1-266.

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

Bradley, W. G. and J. E. Deacon. 1967. The biotic communities of southern Nevada. Nevada State Museum Anthropological Papers No. 13, Part 4. 201-273.

Burkhead, N.M., S.J. Walsh, B.J. Freeman, and J.D. Williams. 1997. Status and restoration of the Etowah River, an imperiled southern Appalachian ecosystem. Pages 375-444 in Benz, G.W., and D.E. Collins, eds. Aquatic fauna in peril: the southeastern perspective. Southeast Aquatic Research Institute, Lenz Design & Communications. Decatur, GA.

Burr, B.M., and M.L. Warren, Jr. 1986. A distributional atlas of Kentucky fishes. Scientific and Technical Series No. 4. Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, Frankfort, KY.

Clay, W.M. 1975. The fishes of Kentucky. Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Frankfort, KY.

Cooper, E.L. 1983. Fishes of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, PA.

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.

Dahlberg, M.D., and D.C. Scott. 1971a. The freshwater fishes of Georgia. Bulletin of the Georgia Academy of Science 29:1-64.

Dahlberg, M.D., and D.C. Scott. 1971b. Introductions of freshwater fishes in Georgia. Bulletin of the Georgia Academy of Science 29:245-252.

Eagles-Smith, C.A., T.H. Suchanek, A.E. Colwell, N.L. Anderson, and P.B. Moyle. 2008. Changes in fish diets and food web mercury bioaccumulation induced by an invasive planktivorous fish. Ecological Applications 18(8 Supplement):A213-A226.

Erdsman, D.S. 1984. Exotic fishes in Puerto Rico. Pages 162-176 in Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and J.R. Stauffer, Jr, eds. Distribution, biology, and management of exotic fishes. John Hopkins University Press. Baltimore, MD.

Haskell, W.L. 1959. Diet of the Mississippi threadfin shad, Dorosoma petenense atchafalayae, in Arizona. Copeia 1959(4):298-302.

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

La Rivers, I. 1962. Fishes and fisheries of Nevada. Nevada State Print Office, Carson City, NV.

Lee, D. S., C. R. Gilbert, C. H. Hocutt, R. E. Jenkins, D. E. McAllister, and J. R. Stauffer, Jr. 1980 et seq. Atlas of North American freshwater fishes. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raleigh, NC.

Maciolek, J.A. 1984. Exotic fishes in Hawaii and other islands of Oceania. Pages 131-161 in W.R. Courtenay, Jr., and J.R. Stauffer, Jr., editors. Distribution, biology, and management of exotic fishes. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

Matern, S.A., P.B. Moyle, and L.C. Pierce. 2002. Native and alien fishes in a California estuarine marsh: twenty-one years of changing assemblages. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 131:797-816.

Menhinick, E.F. 1991. The freshwater fishes of North Carolina. North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Raleigh, NC.

Miller, R.R., and C.H. Lowe. 1967. Part 2. Fishes of Arizona. Pages 133-151 in Lowe, C.H, ed. The vertebrates of Arizona. University of Arizona Press. Tuscon, AZ.

Miller, G.L., and S.C. Jorgenson. 1969. Seasonal occurence and length of frequency distribution of some marine fishes of coastal Georgia. Data Report No. 35. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, DC.

Miller, R.J., and H.W. Robison. 1973. The fishes of Oklahoma. Oklahoma State University Press, Stillwater, OK.

Minckley, W.L. 1973. Fishes of Arizona. Arizona Fish and Game Department. Sims Printing Company, Inc., Phoenix, AZ.

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. 1976a. Inland fishes of California. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

Moyle, P.B. 1976b. Fish introduction in California: history and impact on native fishes. Biological Conservation 9:101-118.

Moyle, P.B. and J. Randall. 1999. Distribution maps of fishes in California.

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.

Pflieger, W.L. 1975. The fishes of Missouri. Missouri Department of Conservation, Jefferson City, MO.

Raasch, M.S., and V. L. Altemus, Sr. 1991. Delaware's freshwater and brackish water fishes - a popular account. Delaware State College for the Study of Del-Mar-Va Habitats and the Society of Natural History of Delaware. 166 pp.

Rasmussen, J.L. 1998. Aquatic nuisance species of the Mississippi River basin. 60th Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, Aquatic Nuisance Species Symposium, Dec. 7, 1998, Cincinnati, OH.

Red River Authority of Texas. 2001. Red and Canadian Basins Fish Inventory: Grayson County. Red River Authority of Texas.

Red River Authority of Texas. 2001. Red and Canadian Basins Fish Inventory: Red River County. Red River Authority of Texas.

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

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

Sommer, T., B. Harrell, M. Nobriga, R. Brown, P. Moyle, W. Kimmerer, and L. Schemel. 2001. California's Yolo Bypass: evidence that flood control can be compatible with fisheries, wetlands, wildlife, and agriculture. Fisheries 26(8):6-16.

Southwick, R. - District Fisheries Supervisor, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Richmond, VA. Response to NBS-G non-indigenous questionaire. 1992.

Starnes, W.C., J. Odenkirk, and M.J. Ashton. 2011. Update and analysis of fish occurrences in the lower Potomac River drainage in the vicinity of Plummers Island, Maryland—Contribution XXXI to the natural history of Plummers Island, Maryland. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 124(4):280-309.

Stauffer, J.R., Jr., J.M. Boltz, and L.R. White. 1995. The fishes of West Virginia. Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA.

Sublette, J.E., M. D. Hatch, and M. Sublette. 1990. The fishes of New Mexico. New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, NM.

Tilmant, J.T. 1999. Management of nonindigenous aquatic fish in the U.S. National Park System. National Park Service. 50 pp.

Walker, P. - Colorado Division of Wildlife, Brush, CO.

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.

Zuckerman, L.D., and R.J. Behnke. 1986. Introduced fishes in the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Pages 435-452 in R.H. Stroud, ed. Fish culture in fisheries management. Proceedings of a symposium on the role of fish culture in fisheries management at Lake Ozark, MO, March 31-April 3, 1985. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.

Other Resources:
Distribution in Illinois - ILNHS

FishBase Summary

Author: Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson

Revision Date: 12/28/2016

Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016

Citation Information:
Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson, 2018, Dorosoma petenense (Günther, 1867): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL,, Revision Date: 12/28/2016, Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016, Access Date: 3/22/2018

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 [3/22/2018].

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