We present a simulation model in which individual adult migrant American shad (Alosa sapidissima) ascend the Connecticut River and spawn, and survivors return to the marine environment. Our approach synthesizes bioenergetics, reproductive biology, and behavior to estimate the effects of migratory distance and delays incurred at dams on spawning success and survival. We quantified both the magnitude of effects and the consequences of uncertainty in the estimates of input variables. Behavior, physiology, and energetics strongly affected both the distribution of spawning effort and survival to the marine environment. Delays to both upstream and downstream movements had dramatic effects on spawning success, determining total fecundity and spatial extent of spawning. Delays, combined with cues for migratory reversal, also determined the likelihood of survival. Spawning was concentrated in the immediate vicinity of dams and increased with greater migratory distance and delays to downstream migration. More research is needed on reproductive biology, behavior, energetics, and barrier effects to adequately understand the interplay of the various components of this model; it does provide a framework, however, that suggests that provision of upstream passage at dams in the absence of expeditious downstream passage may increase spawning success — but at the expense of reduced iteroparity.
Additional Publication Details
Migratory Energetics of American shad (Alosa sapidissima), Modeling Implications for the Conservation of an Iteroparous Anadromous Fish
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences