Clupeiformes (Latin: clupea, ‘sardine’ + Latin –forma, ‘shape, look’)
Taxonomy: Superclass Gnathastomata- jawed fishes
Class Actinopterygii- ray-finned fishes
Order Clupeiformes- herrings and anchovies
Suborder Clupeidae (herrings, shads, sardines, menhadens)
Families (6) Denticipitidae (denticle herring), Chirocentridae (wolf herring), Dussumieriidae, Engraulidae (anchovies), Pristigasteridae (pristigasterids), Sundasalangidae (sundaland noodlefishes)
96 genera, ~403 species
VT Species: Blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis), Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus), American shad (Alosa sapidissima), Gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum)
Description: Recessus lateralis (essentially an ear-swim bladder connection involving the otophysic connection where sensory canals merge; improves hearing ability), generally lack lateral line, feed on plankton, sometimes many long gill rakers will serve as a “straining” device. Small with fusiform to slightly compressed body morphology, abdominal pelvic fins, lower jaw extends posterior to vertical margin of the eye, no spines, single dorsal fin, and cycloid scales.
Habitat: Found mainly in marine waters (4/5 of species), but can tolerate some low salinities in fresh and brackish waters. Live in pelagic littoral zones moving to deeper waters during the day and more shallow areas at night. Make use of bays, streams, marshes, estuaries, rivers, and lakes.
Distribution: Found worldwide in offshore pelagic zones of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. Freshwater species can be found in Africa, North and South America, and SE Asia.
Ecology and life history: Clupeiformes larvae are released at the surface and develop via passive, but herring release demersal eggs that sink and adhere to the bottom where they develop. Most Clupeiformes filter-feed (plankton, small crustaceans, and other larvae) through their multitude of large gill rakers. They travel in schools and many migrate including some anadromous species.
Additional details: Clupeiformes provide a source of food, oil, and bait to humans. They also use a schooling method of swimming together to increase efficiency and deter predators as they are a popular prey fish. There are two species (Alosa alabamae and Tenualosa thibaudeaui) that are listed as endangered by the IUCN.
Buchanan, T. M., W.G. Layher, C.T. McAllister, and H.W. Robinson. 2012 “The
Alabama shad (Alosa alabamae: Clupeiformes:Clupeidae) in the White River,
Arkansas.” The Southwestern Naturalist 57(3): 347-349.
Fey, D.P., and J.A. Hare. 2012. Temperature and Somatic Growth Effects on Otolith Growth of
Larval Atlantic Menhaden, Brevoortia Tyrannus (Actinopterygii: Clupeiformes:
Clupeidae). Acta Ichtyologica Et Piscatoria 42(3), 215-222.