Dramatic declines in North Atlantic diadromous fishes.
We examined the status of diadromous (migratory between saltwater and freshwater) fishes within the North Atlantic basin, a region of pronounced declines in fisheries for many obligate marine species. Data on these 24 diadromous (22 anadromous, 2 catadromous) species are sparse, except for a few high-value forms. For 35 time series, relative abundances had dropped to less than 98% of historic levels in 13, and to less than 90% in an additional 11. Most reached their lowest levels near the end of the observation period. Many populations persist at sharply reduced levels, but all species had suffered population extirpations, and many species are now classified as threatened or endangered. Habitat loss (especially damming), overfishing, pollution, and, increasingly, climate change, nonnative species, and aquaculture contributed to declines in this group. For those diadromous fishes for which data exist, we show that populations have declined dramatically from original baselines. We also discuss the consequences of these changes in terms of lost ecosystem services.