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Unconsolidated (Gravel, Sand, Silt, Mud) Stream Shore

These communities are found throughout Tennessee but especially along low-gradient streams of Middle and West Tennessee. Gravel bars are especially abundant in Middle Tennessee's Highland Rim and Nashville Basin and on a few rivers in the Ridge and Valley. Sand bars and bars of silt and mud are most frequent in the Coastal Plain of West Tennessee. A few sandbars also exist along some of the mid- to larger stream of the Cumberland Plateau such as the Obed and Big South Fork Rivers. 

MEDIUM TO LARGE STREAMS & RIVERS

Tennessee has a wealth of aquatic communities for a land-locked state. Some of the largest rivers in North America run through the state, including the Mississippi, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers. Unfortunately, many of Tennessee's rivers have been impacted by damming and channelization. During the early and mid-20th century, many dams were constructed on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers and some of their major tributaries by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), permanently altering the natural flow of many streams in Middle and East Tennessee. Such impacts, while beneficial to local economies and industry and important in bringing the U.S. out of the Great Depression, have had devestating effects on aquatic fauna and flora. Such impacts include the extinction of many mussel species and the endangerment of many  fish. In West Tennessee most of the major rivers were channelized by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for flood-control. These changes in the natural flows of these rivers have permanently impacted their ecology, leading to the deterioration of thousands of acres of wetlands. Many Tennessee streams that haven't been dammed or channelized have been degraded due to both point and non-point source pollution, leading to further degradation of water-quality. In the past few decades, aquatic systems have suffered repeated blows from non-native invasive aquatic species such as Asiatic clam, carp, hydrilla, and water milfoil, and didymo algae. In spite of all the degradation of our waterways many streams do remain in good to excellent shape, especially in more rural parts of Middle and East Tennessee. Several rivers are now protected at the state and federal level as scenic waterways. Tennessee is renowned for its aquatic faunal diversity. The Duck, Clinch, and Powell Rivers are among the biologically richest streams in the temperate portion of the Northern Hemisphere with respect to fish and mussel diversity. 

SMALL STREAMS

SPRINGS

MISSISSIPPI VALLEY LOESS PLAINS

BLUFF HILLS ECOREGION

LOESS PLAIN ECOREGION

SOUTHEASTERN PLAINS

NORTHERN HILLY GULF COASTAL PLAIN ECOREGION

  • Northern Hilly Gulf Coastal Plain Unconsolidated Sand Cliff

INTERIOR PLATEAUS

WESTERN HIGHLAND RIM ECOREGION

PENNYROYAL PLAIN ECOREGION

NASHVILLE BASIN ECOREGION

CUMBERLAND ENCLAVE ECOREGION

  • Cumberland Enclave Limestone Cliff
  • Cumberland Enclave Shaley-Limestone Cliff
EASTERN HIGHLAND RIM ECOREGION

SOUTHWESTERN APPALACHIANS

CUMBERLAND PLATEAU ESCARPMENT ECOREGION

CUMBERLAND PLATEAU ECOREGION

CRAB ORCHARD MOUNTAINS

SEQUATCHIE VALLEY ECOREGION

CENTRAL APPALACHIANS

CUMBERLAND MOUNTAINS

CUMBERLAND MOUNTAIN THRUSTBLOCK ECOREGION

RIDGE AND VALLEY

SOUTHERN CALCAREOUS VALLEYS ECOREGION

SHALE VALLEYS ECOREGION

DISSECTED RIDGES ECOREGION

SANDSTONE RIDGES ECOREGION

BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS 

SEDIMENTARY MOUNTAINS ECOREGION

METASEDIMENTARY MOUNTAINS ECOREGION

IGNEOUS MOUNTAINS ECOREGION

AMPHIBOLITE MOUNTAINS ECOREGION

DOLOMITE COVES ECOREGION