Body size, not other morphological traits, characterizes cascading effects in fish assemblage composition following commercial netting Academic Article uri icon


  • Traits used to group species and generalize predatorprey interactions can aid in constructing models to assess human impacts on food webs, especially in complex, species-rich systems. Commercial netting has reduced populations of large-bodied piscivores in some lagoons of a Venezuelan floodplain river, and cascading effects result in distinct prey fish communities in netted and unnetted lagoons. In 2002 and 2003, we sampled assemblages of prey fishes in netted and unnetted lagoons and tested whether fish size and (or) other morphological characteristics were associated with differences in assemblage composition. In both years, prey fish assemblages in netted lagoons were dominated numerically by larger species. We used geometric morphometric methods to test for a relationship between species morphological characteristics and found that neither overall morphological ordination nor specific morphological traits could be used to distinguish among assemblages. Thus, size was the only variable that was useful in explaining differences in assemblage composition. Even in this species-rich river with a complex food web, size-structured predatorprey interactions apparently influence community-level patterns and can be used to characterize human impacts.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Layman, C. A., Langerhans, R. B., & Winemiller, K. O.

citation count

  • 51

complete list of authors

  • Layman, CA||Langerhans, RB||Winemiller, KO

publication date

  • December 2005