Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: South Carolina
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

South Carolina Project

Environmental and temporal patterns of larval fish communities and American Shad spawning in the lower Broad River

July 2023 - July 2025


Participating Agencies

  • Dominion Energy South Carolina

Anadromous species, such as American Shad (Alosa sapidissima), are ecologically and economically important species in SC that migrate from the ocean to spawn in rivers. Accordingly, American Shad are particularly sensitive habitat fragmentation resulting from dam construction that block migratory pathways and are also being threatened by overfishing, flow alteration, and habitat loss. Due to these threats, the American Shad has been listed as a species of high conservation need on SCDNR’s State Wildlife Action Plan. Historically, anadromous species used much of the Broad River, but dams have since blocked upstream migration, resulting in the loss of spawning habitat for many species. In 2007, the construction of fish ladder at the Columbia Diversion Dam open access to 24 miles of potential spawning habitat for anadromous species, and species like the American Shad are passing through the fish ladder in increasing numbers. However, it is still unknown if or where spawning occurs between Columbia Diversion Dam and Parr Hydroelectric Dam (SCDNR personal communication). Therefore, this project aims to determine whether American Shad are spawning in this river section as well as identify potential spawning habitat sites. Site-specific information on spawning sites and larval fish habitat requirements are needed to better understand how larval and adult fish American Shad will respond to habitat alteration and provide manager with information needed to protect key spawning and nursery habitats. Additionally, environmental cues driving migration and spawning of shad are not well understood. Temperature and instream flow variation are thought to be the main factors driving American Shad spawning, migration, and recruitment. This project will also explore the effects of variation in temperature and river discharge on recruitment spawning and adult migration upstream.

Presentations Presentation Date
Niles, M. B., and Bower, L. M. (2023). Temporal and spatial patterns of larval fish assemblages across a river-reservoir continuum. Southern Division of The American Fisheries Society Meeting. Chattanooga, Tennessee. 2 February 2024. February 2024