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Volume 2 (2002), Pages 204-218
Research Article

Proposed Methods and Endpoints for Defining and Assessing Adverse Environmental Impact (AEI) on Fish Communities/Populations in Tennessee River Reservoirs

River System Operations & Environment, Tennessee Valley Authority, 17 Ridgeway Road, Norris, TN 37828, USA

Received 8 November 2001; Revised 14 March 2002; Accepted 15 March 2002

Academic Editor: Joe Wisniewski

Copyright © 2002 Gary D. Hickman and Mary L. Brown.


Two multimetric indices have been developed to help address fish community (reservoir fish assemblage index [RFAI]) and individual population quality (sport fishing index [SFI]) in Tennessee River reservoirs. The RFAI, with characteristics similar to the index of biotic integrity (IBI) used in stream fish community determinations, was developed to monitor the existing condition of resident fish communities[1,2,3]. The index, which incorporates standardized electrofishing of littoral areas and experimental gill netting for limnetic bottom-dwelling species, has been used to determine residential fish community response to various anthropogenic impacts in southeastern reservoirs.

The SFI is a multimetric index designed to address the quality of the fishery for individual resident sport fish species in a particular lake or reservoir[4]. The SFI incorporates measures of fish population aspects and angler catch and pressure estimates. This paper proposes 70% of the maximum RFAI score and 10% above the average SFI score for individual species as “screening” endpoints for balanced indigenous populations (BIP) or adverse environmental impact (AEI). Endpoints for these indices indicate: (1) communities/populations are obviously balanced indigenous populations (BIP) indicating no adverse environmental impact (AEI), or are “screened out”; (2) communities/populations are considered to be potentially impacted; and (3) where the resident fish community/population should be considered adversely impacted. Suggestions are also made concerning how examination of individual metric scores can help determine the source or cause of the impact.