Aquatic Biology


The quality of Tennessee’s water bodies (reservoirs, rivers and streams) over time can be assessed by the study of biological indicators such as aquatic invertebrates and diatoms that are collected using various Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and TN Department of Environmental Conservation – Division of Water Resources (TDEC-DWR) methods such as Semi-quantitative, Biorecon or RPS sampling techniques and in-stream characterization assessments.

A sampling of aquatic invertebrates can provide a measurement of water body health unlike chemical analysis or the presence of fish which is unable to identify long-term systemic pollution. These samples are easily non-invasively collected without expensive equipment. The data obtained from these samples can serve to indicate the need for additional data collection. The data is then reported to TDEC-DWR-Planning and Standards, which is responsible for generating reports that summarize the general water quality of surface waters in Tennessee.

The laboratory also collects fish which are then analyzed by the chemistry section to determine the level of pollutants. Tissues are tested for common analytes such as heavy metals, pesticides, and PCB’s.

For more information o, please contact the Aquatic Biology Laboratory Manager, Pat Alicea, or 615-262-6327.