Columbia River reservoirs support a large population of nonnative American Shad Alosa sapidissima that consume the zooplankton that native fishes also rely on. We hypothesized that the unprecedented biomass of juvenile American Shad in John Day Reservoir is capable of altering the zooplankton community if these fish consume a large portion of the zooplankton production. We derived taxon-specific estimates of zooplankton production using field data and a production model from the literature. Empirical daily ration was estimated for American Shad and expanded to population-level consumption using abundance and biomass data from hydroacoustic surveys. Daphnia spp. production was high in early summer but declined to near zero by September as shad abundance increased. American Shad sequentially consumed Daphnia spp., copepods, and Bosmina spp., which tracked the production trends of these taxa. American Shad evacuation rates ranged from 0.09 to 0.24/h, and daily rations ranged from 0.008 to 0.045 g·g−1·d−1 (dry weight) over all years. We observed peak American Shad biomass (45.2 kg/ha) in 1994, and daily consumption (1.6 kg/ha) approached 30% (5.3 kg/ha) of zooplankton production. On average, American Shad consumed 23.6% of the available zooplankton production (range, <1–83%). The changes in the zooplankton community are consistent with a top-down effect of planktivory by American Shad associated with their unprecedented biomass and consumption, but the effects are likely constrained by temperature, nutrient flux, and the seasonal production patterns of zooplankton in John Day Reservoir. American Shad add to the planktivory exerted by other species like Neomysis mercedis to reduce the capacity of the reservoir to support other planktivorous fishes. The introduction of American Shad and other nonnative species will continue to alter the food web in John Day Reservoir, potentially affecting native fishes, including Pacific salmon Oncorhynchus spp.
Additional publication details
The effects of juvenile American shad planktivory on zooplankton production in Columbia River food webs