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Food web perspectives and methods for riverine fish conservation


Sean M. Naman
Peter A. McHugh
Matthew J. Kaylor
Colden V Baxter
Robert J. Danehy
Robert J. Naiman
Amy L. Puls



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Pacific Northwest Research Station


WIREs Water. 9(4): 225-246.


Food web analyses offer useful insights into understanding how species interactions, trophic relationships, and energy flow underpin important demographic parameters of fish populations such as survival, growth, and reproduction. However, the vast amount of food web literature and the diversity of approaches can be a deterrent to fisheries practitioners engaged in on-the-ground research, monitoring, or restoration. Incorporation of food web perspectives into contemporary fisheries management and conservation is especially rare in riverine systems, where approaches often focus more on the influence of physical habitat and water temperature on fish populations. In this review, we first discuss the importance of food webs in the context of several common fisheries management issues, including assessing carrying capacity, evaluating the effects of habitat change, examining species introductions or extinctions, considering bioaccumulation of toxins, and predicting the effects of climate change and other anthropogenic stressors on riverine fishes. We then examine several relevant perspectives: basic food web description, metabolic models, trophic basis of production, mass-abundance network approaches, ecological stoichiometry, and mathematical modeling. Finally, we highlight several existing and emerging methodologies including diet and prey surveys, eDNA, stable isotopes, fatty acids, and community and network analysis. Although our emphasis and most examples are focused on salmonids in riverine environments, the concepts are easily generalizable to other freshwater fish taxa and ecosystems.


Naman, Sean M.; White, Seth M.; Bellmore, J. Ryan; McHugh, Peter A.; Kaylor, Matthew J.; Baxter, Colden V.; Danehy, Robert J.; Naiman, Robert J.; Puls, Amy L. 2022. Food web perspectives and methods for riverine fish conservation. WIREs Water. 9(4): 225-246.


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