The River Continuum Concept (RCC) provides the framework for studying how lotic ecosystems vary from headwater streams to large rivers. The RCC was developed in streams in eastern deciduous forests of North America, but watershed characteristics and land uses differ across ecoregions, presenting unique opportunities to study how predictions of the RCC may differ across regions. Additionally, RCC predictions may vary due to the influence of fishes, but few studies have used fish taxa as a metric for evaluating predictions of the RCC. Our goal was to determine if RCC predictions for stream orders 1 through 5 were supported by primary producer, macroinvertebrate, and fish communities in Cadron Creek of the Arkansas River Valley. We sampled chlorophyll a, macroinvertebrates, and fishes at five stream reaches across a gradient of watershed size. Contrary to RCC predictions, chlorophyll a did not increase in concentration with catchment size. As the RCC predicts, fish and macroinvertebrate diversity increased with catchment size. Shredding and collecting macroinvertebrate taxa supported RCC predictions, respectively decreasing and increasing in composition as catchment area increased. Herbivorous and predaceous fish did not follow RCC predictions; however, surface-water column feeding fish were abundant at all sites as predicted. We hypothesize some predictions of the RCC were not supported in headwater reaches of this system due to regional differences in watershed characteristics and altered resource availability due to land use surrounding sampling sites.
Burgad, A. A.; Clark, S. T.; Furr, M. E.; Lenard, A. N.; Polett, M. E.; Robinson, C. D.; Sherwood, C. R.; Spooner, G. L.; Stoughton, S. J.; and Adams, S. R.
"Longitudinal patterns in an Arkansas River Valley stream: an Application of the River Continuum Concept,"
Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science: Vol. 71
, Article 27.
Available at: http://scholarworks.uark.edu/jaas/vol71/iss1/27