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Data from: Fish functional traits correlated with environmental variables in a temperate biodiversity hotspot

Citation

Keck, Benjamin P. et al. (2015), Data from: Fish functional traits correlated with environmental variables in a temperate biodiversity hotspot, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.738d2

Abstract

The global biodiversity crisis has invigorated the search for generalized patterns in most disciplines within the natural sciences. Studies based on organismal functional traits attempt to broaden implications of results by identifying the response of functional traits, instead of taxonomic units, to environmental variables. Determining the functional trait responses enables more direct comparisons with, or predictions for, communities of different taxonomic composition. The North American freshwater fish fauna is both diverse and increasingly imperiled through human mediated disturbances, including climate change. The Tennessee River, USA, contains one of the most diverse assemblages of freshwater fish in North America and has more imperiled species than other rivers, but there has been no trait-based study of community structure in the system. We identified 211 localities in the upper Tennessee River that were sampled by the Tennessee Valley Authority between 2009 and 2011 and compiled fish functional traits for the observed species and environmental variables for each locality. Using fourth corner analysis, we identified significant correlations between many fish functional traits and environmental variables. Functional traits associated with an opportunistic life history strategy were correlated with localities subject to greater land use disturbance and less flow regulation, while functional traits associated with a periodic life history strategy were correlated with localities subject to regular disturbance and regulated flow. These are patterns observed at the continental scale highlighting the generalizability of trait-based methods. Contrary to studies that found no community structure differences when considering riparian buffer zones, we found that fish functional traits were correlated with different environmental variables between analyses with buffer zones vs. entire catchment area land cover proportions. Using existing databases and fourth corner analysis, our results support the broad application potential for trait-based methods and indicate trait-based methods can detect environmental filtering by riparian zone land cover.

Usage Notes

Location

North Carolina
Southeastern USA; Tennessee; Virginia; North Carolina; Georgia; Tennessee River Drainage
Tennessee
Tennessee River Drainage
Georgia
Virginia
Southeastern USA