Alewife


Alewife

Taxobox
name = Alewife



image_width = 250px
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Actinopterygii
ordo = Clupeiformes
familia = Clupeidae
genus = "Alosa"
subgenus = "(Pomolobus)"
species = "A. (P.) pseudoharengus"
binomial = "Alosa (Pomolobus) pseudoharengus"
binomial_authority = (Wilson, 1811)

The alewife ("Alosa pseudoharengus") is a species of herring. There are anadromous and landlocked forms. The landlocked form is also called a sawbelly or mooneye (although this latter name is more commonly applied to "Hiodon" spp.). The front of the body is deep and larger than other fish found in the same waters, and its common name is said to come from comparison with a corpulent female tavernkeeper ("ale-wife"). [Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition] In Atlantic Canada it is known as the gaspereau. More locally, in southwestern Nova Scotia it is called a kiack (or kyack). [ [http://www.gov.ns.ca/fish/sportfishing/species/ale.shtml Nova Scotia Fisheries: Alewife] ] This fish has, in the past, been used as a baitfish for the lobster fishing industry. It is also used for human consumption, usually smoked. It is caught (during its migration up stream) using large dip nets to scoop the fish out of shallow, constricted areas on its migratory streams and rivers. It is one of the "typical" North American shads of the subgenus "Pomolobus". (Faria "et al." 2006)

In the North American Great Lakes

Alewives are perhaps best known for their invasion of the Great Lakes by using the Welland Canal to bypass Niagara Falls. Alewives colonized the Great Lakes and became abundant mostly in lakes Huron and Michigan. They reached their peak abundance by the 1950s and 1960s. Alewives grew in number unchecked because of the lack of a top predator in the lakes (lake trout were essentially wiped out around the same time by overfishing and the invasion of the Atlantic sea lamprey). For a time, alewives, which often exhibit seasonal die offs, washed up in windrows on the shorelines of the Great Lakes. Their control was the impetus for the introduction of various Pacific Salmon species (first coho, and later the chinook salmon) to act as predators on them. This caused the development of a salmon/alewife fish community, popular with many sport anglers. Alewives, however, have been implicated in the decline of many native Great Lakes species through competition and predation.

References

* (2006): A molecular phylogenetic perspective on the evolutionary history of "Alosa" spp. (Clupeidae). "Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution" 40(1): 298–304. doi|10.1016/j.ympev.2006.02.008 (HTML abstract)

Footnotes


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  • alewife — I. noun Date: 15th century a woman who keeps an alehouse II. noun (plural alewives) Etymology: perhaps alteration of obsolete allowes, a kind of shad, from French alose shad, from Old French, from Late Latin alausa Date: 1633 a food fish (Alosa… …   New Collegiate Dictionary