Research Interests: Life History Strategies and Food Web Dynamics of Fishes in an Unregulated River-Floodplain Ecosystem

Entry into IGERT Program: Spring 2002
Graduation Date:  May 2009 (Ph.D.)
Professional Address:  (current)
   The Nature Conservancy
   Northshore Field Office, P.O. Box 1497
   Covington, LA 70434



B.S. Wildlife/Fisheries, 1990
University of California, Davis
M.S. Biology, 1995
University of Nevada, Reno

Graduate Committee:

Dr. Art Benke (UA), Major Advisor
Dr. Amy Ward (UA)
Dr. Alexander Huryn (UA)
Dr. Tom Turner (UNM)
Dr. Wendell Haag (USFS, Oxford, MS)


I have initiated a collaboration with Dr. Wendell Haag, USDA-Forest Service (Oxford, Mississippi), on a project that is complementary to my dissertation research on faunal studies (primarily fishes) in the biologically diverse Sipsey River, AL. Surveys conducted concurrently by the USDA Forest Service on freshwater unionids (mussels) will overlap with my fish surveys and allow for a comparison of abundance patterns in both communities. I anticipate relating abundance patterns of mussels, whose larvae are obligate parasites, to relative abundance of host fishes. In order to accomplish this, we are currently working on publishing a manuscript in which we describe use of multivariate statistics to identify glochidia using shell morphometrics.


    My research priorities are focused on developing an understanding of how environmental conditions act as an evolutionary template in the ecological diversification of stream fishes. I am well versed in the biology and ecology of fish and aquatic invertebrate communities as a result of previous academic pursuits. I wish to enhance my training while at the University of Alabama by completing courses which focus on community interactions in aquatic environments, as well as to learn the situational influences hydrology and geomorphology impose on ecosystems of the southeastern United States.

    My research will focus on the development of a seasonal food web in an unregulated watershed (Sipsey River). This river is a good model system to use in the evaluation of how inundation levels, which change throughout the year based on short-term responses to precipitation patterns as well as to longer-term effects (such as groundwater recharge and evapotranspiration), are tracked by the fish community.

    This investigation will provide valuable insight into the dynamics of energy processing in an unregulated, temperate river. Monthly fish samples I will collect from both floodplain and main channel habitat over two years will enable me to determine temporal shifts in major food items consumed by Sipsey River fishes in relation to hydrologic connectivity. During lab procedures, I will quantify parental investment by weighing gonads and measuring ova produced by females. This information will allow me to examine a component of life history with respect to changes in availability of aquatic resources. Overall, my work will integrate three aquatic communities (aquatic insects, fishes, and freshwater mussels) through predator and prey dynamics (fishes and aquatic insects), as well as associations of parasites to their hosts (mussels and fishes). Infestations of freshwater mussel larvae on fish hosts will be quantified by examining gills and fins of captured fish with a dissecting microscope.

    This information will be useful in establishing the role of the flooding cycle and fish biomass accumulation. I will also create a pertinent data set on a critical ecological link between freshwater mussels in the family Unionidae, one of the most imperiled taxa in North American watersheds, and their use of fish hosts in a natural setting.


    2004 Research Grant - $13,500 - Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
    Grant Title: Quantifying and identifying unionid larvae in drift and on fishes of the Sipsey River.

    2004-2005 Cost Share - $1,280 - USDA Forest Service, Oxford, MS
    Funded for partial costs of employing undergraduates for lab research, museum curation and specimen storage.

    2003 Research Fellowship - $23,624 - Graduate Council, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
    Grant Title: Evaluation of energy pathways in the aquatic community of the Sipsey River, Alabama.


    Kennedy, T. B., W. R. Haag, A. C. Benke and J. C. Phillips. Occurrence of parasitic freshwater mussel larvae on host fishes in a diverse southeastern river, USA. Freshwater Biology. (In preparation).

    Kennedy, T. B. and A. C. Benke. Seasonal icthyofaunal catch in a hyper-diverse southeastern USA river-floodplain. Copeia. (In preparation).

    Kennedy, T. B., D. A. Arrington and A. C. Benke. Trophic guild structure in body size-abundance scaling of a diverse southeastern USA river-floodplain fish assemblage. Ecology. (In preparation).

    Kennedy, T.B. and G. L. Vinyard. 2006. Ecology of young stream-resident Warner sucker (Catostomus warnerensis) in Warner Basin, Oregon, USA. American Midland Naturalist 156:400-404.

    Kennedy, T.B. and W. R. Haag. In press. Using morphometrics to identify glochidia from a diverse freshwater mussel community. Journal of the North American Benthological Society. 24:880-889..

    Kennedy, T.B., A.M. Merenlender and G.L. Vinyard. 2000. A comparison of riparian condition and benthic invertebrate community indices in central Nevada. Western North American Naturalist. 60(3):255-272.

    Kennedy, T.B. and G.L. Vinyard. 1997. Drift ecology of western catostomid larvae with emphasis on Warner suckers, Catostomus warnerensis (Teleostei). Environmental Biology of Fishes. 49:187-195.

    Moyle, P.B., T.B. Kennedy, D. Kuda, and G. Grant. 1991. Fishes of Bly Tunnel, Lassen County, California. Great Basin Naturalist. 51(3):267-270.


    Kennedy, T. B., W. R. Haag and A. C. Benke. Occurrence of parasitic freshwater mussel larvae on host fishes in a diverse southeastern river, USA. 2006 North American Benthological Society. Anchorage, AK.

    Kennedy, T. B. and A. C. Benke. Identification of trophic guild improves body size-abundance scaling predictions in a southeastern USA river-floodplain fish assemblage. 2006 Southeastern Ecology and Evolution Conference. Tuscaloosa, AL.

    Kennedy, T. B., S. A. Pugh, J. Culp, B. J. Weibell, L. M. Tronstad and A. C. Benke. Ecological dynamics of food web components of the Sipsey river-floodplain ecosystem. 2006 Alabama Fisheries Association. Perdido Beach, AL.

    Kennedy, T. B. and W.R. Haag. Mussel glochidia identification and infestation patterns on fishes in the Sipsey River, Alabama. 2005 North American Benthological Society Meeting, New Orleans, LA.

    Kennedy, T.B. Autecology of Warner sucker larvae (Catostomus warnerensis) in low gradient streams of the Great Basin. 2003 North American Benthological Society Meeting, Athens, GA.

    Kennedy, T.B., A.M. Merenlender, and G.L. Vinyard. Concordance of aquatic macroinvertebrate communities and riparian plant community indices of Great Basin streams. 1999 Great Basin Biological Research Conference, Reno, NV.

    Kennedy, T.B., A.M. Merenlender, and G.L. Vinyard. An examination of aquatic macroinvertebrate communities in relation to terrestrial plant community condition in Great Basin streams. 1995 North American Benthological Society Meeting, Keystone Resort, CO.

    Kennedy, T.B. and G.L. Vinyard. Stream ecology of larval Warner sucker (Catostomus warnerensis) in the Warner Valley, Oregon. 1995 Society for Conservation Biology Meeting, Fort Collins, CO.

    Kennedy, T.B. and G.L. Vinyard. Microhabitat use patterns and assessment of food limitation to Warner sucker larvae in streams of the Warner Valley, Oregon. 1994 Desert Fishes Council, Death Valley, CA.

    Kennedy, T.B. and G.L. Vinyard. Drift behavior of Warner sucker larvae Catostomus warnerensis in the Warner Valley, Oregon. 1992 Desert Fishes Council, Tempe, AZ.


    A. L. Rypel, T. B. Kennedy, K. M. Pounds and R. H. Findlay. Phenotypic diversification of bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) in unregulated southeastern USA floodplain rivers. 2006 Ecological Society of America, 91st Annual Meeting, Memphis, TN.

    Kennedy, T.B. and A.C. Benke. Species abundance reflects body size and trophic feeding guild constraints in a Southeastern USA river-floodplain. 2005 British Ecological Society Special Symposium: Body size and the organisation and function of aquatic communities, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK.

    Phillips, J.C. and T.B. Kennedy. Tag, you're it! The freshwater mussel parasite-fish host relationship in a southeastern watershed. 2005 Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity Competition, University of Alabama Dept. of Arts and Sciences, Tuscaloosa, AL.