Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Tennessee
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Tennessee Project

Movements and Lock and Dam Passage of Asian Carp in the Tennessee River

January 2017 - June 2022


Participating Agencies

  • Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

Silver Carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix are spreading in the Ohio River Basin and many of its tributaries. Increasing occurrences in one of the major tributaries, the Tennessee River, has created concerns for the five states that manage fisheries within the Tennessee River’s watershed. Populations of Asian carp have become well established in the lower reaches of the Tennessee River, especially below Pickwick Dam. The leading edge of Asian Carp invasion in the Tennessee River is not well defined, but suspected to be between Pickwick Lake in Mississippi and Guntersville Lake in Alabama. Multiple agencies have begun an effort to understand the movement of Asian carp in the Tennessee River basin via acoustic telemetry. These efforts intend to inform removal efforts in downstream areas and inform invasion into the upper portions of the Tennessee River basin including the Tennessee Tombigbee waterway. There is significant potential for limiting dispersal of Asian carp at navigation locks and dams because the design of those structures limits upstream movements. Previous and ongoing studies have created an acoustic receiver array that covers much of the system. This project would fill in the gaps and complete the array of receivers on the Tennessee River system. This project joins multiple, independent projects on the system working towards a common goal. Movement data from these projects will lead to better understanding of Asian carp dispersal and invasion dynamics, evaluation of movement through lock and dam systems, and identification of seasonal congregations in the Tennessee River. The specific objectives are to (1) manually track tagged Asian carp in the Tennessee waters of the Tennessee River in 2016 and 2017; (2) quantify spatial and temporal movements of Asian Carp between Kentucky and Pickwick lakes via the lock chamber at Pickwick Dam.