Osmerus mordax 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Osmeriformes Osmeridae

Scientific Name: Osmerus mordax (Mitchill, 1814)
Common Name(s):
English Rainbow Smelt
Atherina mordax Mitchill, 1814
Osmerus spectrum Cope, 1870

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2012-03-01
Assessor(s): NatureServe
Reviewer(s): Smith, K. & Darwall, W.R.T.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Hammerson, G.A. & Ormes, M.
Listed as Least Concern in view of the large extent of occurrence, large number of subpopulations, large population size, and lack of major threats. Trend over the past 10 years or three generations is uncertain but likely relatively stable, or the species may be declining but not fast enough to qualify for any of the threatened categories under Criterion A (reduction in population size).

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Native in Atlantic coastal drainages from about the Delaware River, Pennsylvania, to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Lake Melville, Newfoundland (Labrador), and west through the Great Lakes, Arctic, and Pacific drainages from Bathurst Inlet, Northwest Territories, to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Also in Old World. Occurs naturally in lakes and ponds in New Hampshire, Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland (Buckley 1989). Introduced in many areas of eastern and central North America, including Great Lakes watershed; seasonally present in main channels of Missouri, Mississippi, Ohio, and Illinois rivers from Kentucky to Montana and south to Louisiana (Page and Burr 1991).
Countries occurrence:
Canada; United States
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is represented by a large number of subpopulations and locations.

Total adult population size is unknown but presumably exceeds 1,000,000. Species is locally and seasonally abundant wherever it is present, except perhaps at the most extreme limits of its range (Morrow 1980).

In New England, annual commercial landings reached 550,000 kg in 1889, then decreased to 215,250 kg in 1951-1954 and declined further to 69,700 kg in 1969-1971 (see sources in Morrow 1980).

Trend over the past 10 years or three generations is uncertain but likely relatively stable or slowly declining.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Midwaters of lakes, inshore coastal waters, rivers; stays within 2 km of shore along coast; not in water deeper than 6 m (Buckley 1989). Some populations are anadromous, others entirely freshwater. Schools of young move into shallow water at night, deeper channels during day (Buckley 1989). Spawns in streams (to at least 25 km from lake) or on gravel of lake shores. In coastal streams, most spawn above head of tide (Buckley 1989). In some areas, a single individual may spawn in several streams in an estuary during a single breeding season. Salinities of 12-14 ppt fatal to eggs. Eggs attach to gravel on bottom. Larvae drift downstream, concentrate near surface; later tend to congregate on bottom in deeper areas, except at night when they move to surface apparently to feed (Buckley 1989).
Systems:Freshwater; Marine
Movement patterns:Full Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Localized threats exist, but on a range-wide scale no major threats are known. Potential threats include overharvest and/or unmonitored harvest in commercial and sport fisheries, pollution or alteration of both freshwater and marine habitats (e.g., from oil spills, wastewater effluent, or obstruction by dams), and possibly environmental impacts associated with global climate change. Commercial harvest declines in New England (see trend comments) are believed to be the result of pollution and obstructions in spawning streams as well as decreased consumer demand (Morrow 1980).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Currently, this species is of relatively low conservation concern and does not require significant additional protection or major management, monitoring, or research action.

Citation: NatureServe. 2013. Osmerus mordax. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T202413A18229730. . Downloaded on 22 May 2018.
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