Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 395–412 | Cite as

New insights into biology and ecology of the Minho River Allis shad (Alosa alosa L.): contribution to the conservation of one of the last European shad populations

  • Micaela Mota
  • Ana Bio
  • Miguel Bao
  • Santiago Pascual
  • Eric Rochard
  • Carlos Antunes
Original Research


In spite of shrinking populations, the Allis shad (Alosa alosa Linnaeus, 1758) is a species of commercial importance in Europe. On the Iberian Peninsula, especially in the international Minho River, it also represents an important cultural heritage. From the mid-twentieth century on, a marked decrease in the number of spawners occurred in that river, following the reduction of available habitat due to dam construction. We investigated the biology and ecology of the Minho River’s Allis shad population, considering: spawners age structure and migration behaviour, reproductive biology, hybridization with Twaite shad (Alosa fallax Lacepède, 1803), juvenile growth, habitats and diet, as well as parasites. Results suggest that males migrated 1 year earlier than females and earlier in the season. Females’ gonadosomatic index increased with time and was higher within the spawning area. According to gill raker numbers, the level of hybridization is higher in juveniles than in adult samples (17 and 3.6 % respectively). To the best of our knowledge, we present the first report of the parasite Anisakis pegreffii in Allis shad, as well as other mouth and visceral cavity parasites. We also reported the first molecular confirmation of the parasite Rhadinorhynchus pristis to this species. Our results will be useful for future management and conservation of the studied population, which is one of the last stable European shad populations.


Allis shad Biology Ecology Conservation Management Minho river 



The authors especially wish to thank Eduardo Martins and Dr. Ronaldo Sousa for field assistance and the Minho River community of fishers for the supply of biological samples. The authors are grateful to several collaborators who contributed with laboratory assistance, especially Sandra Fernandes, Sofia Ribeiro, Ana Rita Carvalho, Andreia Rodrigues, Sara Agra, Artur Loureiro, Hélder Reis, Adriana Pereira and Lukas Fingolo. This study was funded by a PhD grant from the FCT (Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology) supporting Micaela Mota (SFRH/BD/44892/2008). The research was partially supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the COMPETE—Operational Competitiveness Programme and national funds through FCT—Foundation for Science and Technology, under the project “PEst-C/MAR/LA0015/2013”.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Micaela Mota
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ana Bio
    • 2
  • Miguel Bao
    • 4
  • Santiago Pascual
    • 4
  • Eric Rochard
    • 5
  • Carlos Antunes
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.ICBAS – Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel SalazarUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal
  2. 2.Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR/CIMAR)University of PortoPortoPortugal
  3. 3.Aquamuseum of the Minho RiverVila Nova de CerveiraPortugal
  4. 4.ECOBIOMAR, Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas (CSIC)VigoSpain
  5. 5.IRSTEACestasFrance

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