The rapid increase in the stocks of gizzard shad in Lake Erie since 1950 unquestionably had an important effect on the ecology of the lake. The present study, based on almost 24,000 fish collected by various means in 1952-55 in or near the island area of western Lake Erie was undertaken to provide information on the role of shad in the bionomics of the region.
The annulus of the gizzard shad scale is a valid year-mark. It is laid down in May-July, a little later in the older than in the younger fish. The body-scale relation is linear with an intercept of 22.1 mm. on the axis of standard length. Age-groups 0, I, and II were abundantly represented in the samples. Age-group III was much less well represented, and older fish were extremely scarce. The oldest shad seen belonged to the VI-group.
The seasonal growth was most rapid in July-August and growth was much reduced or nil in January-April. Males attained the following average standard lengths (in millimeters) at the end of the indicated years of life: 1-141; 2-273; 3-313; 4-343; 5-349. For females these values were 1-140; 2-285; 3-335; 4-364; 5-386.
The weight of the gizzard shad increased as the 3.07053 power of the length. The length-weight relation varied seasonally, annually, and, near the spawning season, according to sex and state of gonads.
Only a few precocious male and female gizzard shad attain sexual maturity as age-group I. Almost all males and a good percentage of females mature at age II and only rarely are III-group shad immature. Development of the egg and seasonal changes of the ovary are described. Egg production is highest in the II group-average of 378,900 per individual and 689 per gram of body weight. Spawning takes place from early June into July and is most intensive near mid-June. Heaviest spawning is at water temperatures of 67A?F. or more. Early development to the attainment of the adult shape is described; particular attention is given to the development of the alimentary tract.
The anatomy of the digestive tract in the adult is described, and comments are offered on the function of such organs as the pharyngeal pouches and the caeca. Tests were made for digestive enzymes in different parts of the tract. The gizzard shad is a filter feeder. Food varies widely with season and locality but consists mostly of phytoplankton and zooplankton.
Additional publication details
Life history of the gizzard shad, Dorosoma cepedianum (Le Sueur), in western Lake Erie