Date of Award

Fall 12-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biological Sciences

Committee Chair

Jake Schaefer

Committee Chair Department

Biological Sciences

Committee Member 2

Brian R. Kreiser

Committee Member 2 Department

Biological Sciences

Committee Member 3

Donald Yee

Committee Member 3 Department

Biological Sciences

Committee Member 4

Susan Adams

Committee Member 5

Todd Slack


The Alabama shad, Alosa alabamae, is an anadromous species that is in decline and has seen extirpations from impoundments as well as decreased water quality. Alabama shad live in the Gulf of Mexico and ascend Northern Gulf of Mexico Drainages to reproduce early in the year (January-May). The juveniles spend the majority of the year in these freshwater systems before emigrating out to the Gulf of Mexico as late as December.

This dissertation focuses on the juvenile life stages that occur within the Northern Gulf of Mexico drainages. Spawning conditions of the river, as well as the habitat and diet, are studied and documented. Habitat use of the juvenile Alabama shad shifted from sand bars to open channel and banks which was seen in progression as the juveniles increased in size and maturity. Important physicochemical parameters that influenced the presence of Alabama shad within these habitats ranged from temperature, flow velocity, and conductivity. Diet of the juvenile Alabama shad consisted of particulate detritus within Alabama shadtemperatures.

These findings suggest that the management of these drainages should be done independently on a drainage-by-drainage basis. Habitats are consistent between drainages, but the physicochemical factors driving the presence of this species are unique to each drainage. It is also suggested that maintaining natural flows for habitat maintenance and reproductive cues is important toward conservation of the species.