Aquatic Sciences

, 81:15 | Cite as

Gradients in fish feeding guilds along a reservoir cascade

  • L. E. MirandaEmail author
  • Rafaela V. Granzotti
  • Daniel J. Dembkowski
Research Article


The river continuum concept predicts a longitudinal gradient in the structure and functioning of rivers. Impoundments potentially change this continuum by reorganizing nutrient transport and storage in the system. To determine if predictions made by the river continuum concept relative to fish assemblage trophic structure hold for a temperate river transformed into a reservoir cascade, we examined longitudinal trends in the distribution of biomass among feeding guilds over 30 reservoirs of the Tennessee River (USA). Fish assemblages were sampled over a 12-year period, and fishes were classified as detritivores, herbivores, invertivores, piscivores, or planktivores. Biomass of all feeding guilds increased with catchment area (i.e., in a downstream direction). However, representation of herbivores and planktivores within the fish assemblage, as indexed by percent biomass composition, increased with catchment area, whereas representation of detritivores, invertivores, and piscivores decreased. In general, the predictions made by the river continuum concept apply to the Tennessee River reservoir cascade despite the major environmental transformation caused by the series of impoundments. However, transformation of lotic into lentic systems promotes autochthonous primary production and proliferation of herbivores and planktivores that reduces relative representation of other guilds.


Tennessee River Reservoir cascade Fish assemblage structure Feeding resources River continuum Impounded river Longitudinal gradient 



We thank T. Baker and D. Lowery for facilitating access to the TVA electrofishing data set, and K. Pope for a constructive review. RVG thanks the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico for the graduate student scholarship and the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture at Mississippi State University for additional financial support. The Mississippi Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit is a cooperative effort of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks; Mississippi State University; and US Geological Survey. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the US Government.


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. government work and not under copyright protection in the U.S.; foreign copyright protection may apply 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.US Geological Survey, Mississippi Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research UnitMississippi StateUSA
  2. 2.Programa de Pós Graduação em Ecologia de Ambientes Aquáticos ContinentaisUniversidade Estadual de MaringáMaringáBrazil
  3. 3.Fisheries Analysis Center, Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research UnitUniversity of Wisconsin-Stevens PointStevens PointUSA

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