Evidence for serial discontinuity in the fish community of a heavily impounded river

River Research and Applications
By:  and 



In the Tennessee River, USA, we examined lengthwise patterns in fish community structure and species richness within and among nine reservoirs organized in sequence and connected through navigational locks. Within reservoirs, the riverine, transition and lacustrine zones supported distinct, although overlapping, nearshore fish assemblages; differences were also reflected in measures of species richness. Spatial patterns were most apparent for rheophilic species, which increased in species richness and representation upstream within each reservoir and downstream across the chain of reservoirs. This pattern resembled a sawtooth wave, with the amplitude of the wave peaking in the riverine zone below each dam, and progressively higher wave amplitude developing downstream in the reservoir chain. The observed sawtooth pattern supports the serial discontinuity concept in that the continuity of the riverine fish community is interrupted by the lacustrine conditions created behind each dam. Upstream within each reservoir, and downstream in the chain of reservoirs, habitat characteristics become more riverine. To promote sustainability of rheophilic fishes and maintain biodiversity in impounded rivers, conservation plans could emphasize maintenance and preservation of riverine environments of the reservoir's upper reaches, while remaining cognizant of the broader basin trends that provide opportunities for a lengthwise array of conservation and management policy. 

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Evidence for serial discontinuity in the fish community of a heavily impounded river
Series title River Research and Applications
DOI 10.1002/rra.2936
Volume 32
Issue 6
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 9 p.
First page 1187
Last page 1195
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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