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Climate- and Land-Cover-Induced Shifts in the Distribution and Abundance of Invasive Fish and Their Impacts on Native Fish Communities in the Tennessee and Cumberland River Basins

Project Information

Principle Investigator: Xingli Giam, University of Tennessee – Knoxville
Proposed Project Completion: September 2023
Implements Science Plan Theme: Impacts
Project Cooperators: Jacob H LaFontaine (USGS), Jennifer M Cartwright (USGS), Bart Carter (Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency), David Matthews (Tennessee Valley Authority), Benjamin Keck (UTK), Taylor Woods (UTK)


The climate of the Southeast is changing rapidly. As streams warm and streamflow dynamics change due to climate and land-cover changes, previously unsuitable habitats may become hospitable for invasive species. Warmwater and large-river adapted invasive species such as Asian carps may move upstream as habitats that were previously too cold or had too little flow become welcoming environments for them as climate changes. The spread of invasive species will likely impact native fishes and dependent local economies like fishing and tourism.

Within the Southeast, the Tennessee and Cumberland River Basins, located across 7 different US states, are among the most important in terms of total, narrow-ranged, and at-risk fish species richness. Mitigation of invasive fish and their impacts are already management priorities for state and federal agencies. These priorities will likely become even more important as climate change is likely to facilitate further invasions.

This study will investigate the effect of climate and land-cover change on fish invasions and their impacts on native fish in the Tennessee and Cumberland River Basins to support climate adaptation decisions and strategic science needs of natural resource agencies and managers. The study will integrate a robust set of fish monitoring data from state and federal agencies, historical species occurrence data from museums and online databases, and data and models for simulating stream temperatures and streamflow dynamics. The information and knowledge from this study will help natural resource managers more effectively prioritize fish monitoring and conservation to mitigate species invasions and their impacts.