Little Tennessee River Biomonitoring Program

The Little Tennessee River Biomonitoring Program, housed at the Little Tennessee Watershed Association (LTWA), is a citizen-science initiative that measures the health of the Little Tennessee River and its tributaries. The development of this database and website is the first collaborative effort among the Little Tennessee Watershed Association and the Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research Program.

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Since 1988, Biomonitoring Program Director Dr. William O. McLarney, has been sampling fish to develop species inventories at stream sites across the Upper Little Tennessee River basin with the help of thousands of volunteers. This database is one of the largest of its kind and includes observations hundreds of thousands of individual fish representing all species known from the watershed. Many of the samples include a record of fish counts (by species) and a stream health ranking also known as an Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) score. This website presents the fish species and IBI score data in a re-organized, searchable database framework. As time goes on, LTWA is increasingly complementing the fish work with macroinvertebrate monitoring and habitat assessment. Other observations in this database include:

  • Samples from sites where for various reasons it is not possible to calculate IBI.
  • Non-quantitative samples, including presence-absence samples, and others where fish are described as Rare, Common, or Abundant.
  • Samples where for various reasons an IBI protocol was not employed.
  • Significant visual observations, especially those made with mask and snorkel
  • Incomplete samples where these contain significant information on species distribution.

The map to the above provides specific information on the watersheds covered by the Biomonitoring Program. You may download fish species or IBI score data for any or all of these watersheds shown. You may further limit your search to specific dates with start date and end date drop down options. Once you have selected your watersheds and date ranges, simply click the kind of data you wish to download. You will receive an excel spreadsheet file containing a customized data set that lists both the species or IBI data you requested and supporting information concerning the biomonitoring site.

We view this effort as merely the beginning of a long term process which will enhance awareness of biodiversity locally while increasingly involving students and the general public in the setting and implementation of conservation priorities. The database will be updated on an annual basis. You may use the tools above to select and download data to support your own conservation and research efforts.