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Assessment of biotic integrity, water quality and habitat, fishing pressure, and economic value of the fishery in the Caney Fork River below Center Hill Dam

Electrofishing the Caney Fork River


June 2009 - December 2013


Prior to construction of Center Hill Dam, the Caney Fork River supported a diverse warm water fish community. Since dam completion in 1948, the fish community managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for sport fishing has been reduced to a few trout species. Beginning in 2008, the US Army Corps of Engineers (The Corps) initiated a Dam Seepage Control Program that is changing the way water is stored and released by the dam. Changes in the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the tailwater are anticipated, but the exact responses are unknown. The USFWS subsequently requested monitoring of temperature, dissolved oxygen, flow, and biological integrity of fish communities in the Caney Fork River downstream of Center Hill Dam. Data have been collected at five stations quarterly and this sampling program will provide valuable information to The Corps and other stakeholders on biological responses in the tailwater as the zone of cold water in the reservoir diminishes, seepage is controlled, minimum flows are maintained, and the tailwater potentially warms below the dam. Our specific objectives are to (1) monitor water quality seasonally at five stations in the Caney Fork River below Center Hill Dam; (2) develop an index of biotic integrity for the fish community in the Caney Fork River; (3) describe temporal and spatial variation in biotic integrity; and (4) assess key attributes of the recreational fishery for trout in the river and estimate its economic value.

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Ivasauskas, T.I., and P.W. Bettoli. 2014. Development of a Multimetric Index for Fish Asssemblages in a Cold Tailwater in Tennessee. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 143:495-507.

    Abstract |  Download  | 

Technical Publications

  • Ivasauskas, T. 2014. Biotic integrity, water quality, and the recreational fishery in the Caney Fork River below Center Hill Dam, 2009-2012. Final Report to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District. 190 pp.Abstract |

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 239

Phd Students: 142

Post Docs: 53

University Staff: 240

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 701

Scientific Publications: 1936

Presentations: 4260



  • Phillip BettoliPrincipal Investigator
  • Tomas IvasauskasStaff

Funding Agencies

  • Corps of Engineers


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey