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LIST OF MEETING ABSTRACTS

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Oral | Posters


Oral Presentations

 

 

Day: 2, Session: 2, Talk: 1

Molecular Phylogenetic Analysis of the Devil Crayfish Group, with Elevation of Lacunicambarus to Generic Rank and a Re-description of the Devil Crayfish, Lacunicambarus diogenes comb. nov.

MAEL G. GLON, Roger F. Thoma, Chris A. Taylor, Marymegan Daly and John V. Freudenstein

As North American crayfish biodiversity becomes increasingly imperiled, the lack of a well-resolved, underlying taxonomic framework impedes conservation efforts. The taxonomy of the family Cambaridae has historically been based on morphology, but recent studies using molecular phylogenetic techniques have revealed taxonomic inconsistencies including a polyphyletic genus Cambarus. Here, we take a step towards increasing the taxonomic resolution of Cambaridae by investigating a group of primary burrowing crayfishes which were historically part of the Cambarus subgenera Lacunicambarus and Tubericambarus. This group, which we provisionally call the Devil Crayfish Group (DCG) because it contains the Devil Crayfish (Cambarus diogenes), has a complicated taxonomic history and is in need of revisionary work to inform conservation assessments. In this study, we test the hypothesis that the DCG forms a monophyletic clade through phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial DNA sequence data from multiple specimens of the eight DCG species and from a broad sample of taxa representing approximately 70% of the species in what is currently recognized as Cambarus. We find that seven of the eight species from the DCG form a well-supported, monophyletic clade that is distinct from the remainder of what has traditionally been recognized as Cambarus. Although we were not successful in resolving the backbone of our phylogeny with high confidence, our analyses place the DCG as sister to a clade consisting of taxa from the genera Creaserinus, Faxonius, and Barbicambarus. Based on our results and on unique morphological and ecological characteristics of the DCG, we split seven of the eight DCG species from Cambarus and place them in Lacunicambarus, which we elevate to generic rank. We also redescribe the devil crayfish sensu stricto (Lacunicambarus diogenes comb. nov.) and designate a neotype for the species to facilitate subsequent revisionary work.

 

 

Day: 2, Session: 3, Talk: 3

Modeling Effects of Crayfish Invasion and Drought on Crayfish Population Dynamics

Leah Bayer, Robert Fournier and DANIEL D. MAGOULICK

Crayfish play a crucial ecological role and are often considered a keystone species within freshwater ecosystems. However, North American crayfish species face several environmental and ecological threats including limited natural ranges, invasive species, and intensified drought. Demographic models can allow examination of population dynamics of a targeted species under a wide variety of disturbance scenarios. Here, we model the population dynamics of crayfish species with varied theoretical life histories and assess their responses to biological invasions and drought. We used RAMAS-Metapop to construct stage-based demographic metapopulation models parameterized using vital rates from established literature sources. Our models explored the population viability of four theoretical species under eleven disturbance scenarios and calculated estimates of terminal extinction risk, median time to quasi-extinction, and metapopulation occupancy. Our models indicate that populations respond differentially to disturbance based on life history. However, both r- and K-selected species appear to be highly susceptible to decline when faced with the additive effects of reduced carrying capacity due to invasion and reduced vital rates due to drought. By constructing models that explore a broad array of life histories and disturbance regimes, we hope to provide managers with tools to develop generalized, widely-applicable conservation strategies.

 

 

Day: 2, Session: 3, Talk: 6

Crayfish Conservation in Southern England

JEN NIGHTINGALE, Grainne McCabe, Gareth Jones and Paul Stebbing

The white-clawed crayfish, Austropotamobius pallipes has suffered severe declines within the south west of England, where the first signal crayfish, Pascifastcus leniusculus farms were established in the 1970s. In response to this decline, The South West Crayfish Partnership (SWCP) was formed in 2008; comprising Bristol Zoological Society, Buglife, Cefas, the Environment Agency, Wildlife Trusts and Associates. The SWCP implements landscape scale, strategic conservation for A. pallipes, in an attempt to safeguard the future of this species in South West England. The conservation effort has four strands: 1. Ark sites: established throughout the south west England, for translocation of the most highly threatened white-clawed crayfish populations and captive-bred reintroductions. 2. Crayfish captive breeding facility: established at Bristol Zoo, which provides plague-free A. pallipes brood stock for ark site release, wild supplementations, research and outreach. 3. Communication strategy: running in tandem with the other three elements, targeting key audiences such as anglers, restaurants, students, school children and zoo visitors. 4. Invasive crayfish control – trialing different control techniques specifically targeting the signal crayfish. The presentation will cover the key elements of this conservation programme, evaluating its success to date and discuss the research elements that run in tandem with all of these conservation strands.

 

 

Day: 2, Session: 4, Talk: 4

An Update on the Distribution and Conservation Status of the Crayfishes of Alabama

STUART W. McGREGOR, Guenter A. Schuster, Christopher A. Taylor, Rebecca A. Bearden and E. Anne Wynn

Each state is required to have a State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) to be eligible for federal funds through the Wildlife Conservation Restoration Program (WCRP) or the State Wildlife Grants Program (SWG). For Alabama to move forward in conserving its aquatic species, a first step is understanding biodiversity patterns: What species do we have and where are they found? Second, it is important to know which species need conservation action. These fundamental levels of understanding did not exist for crayfishes in Alabama before our project. Starting in 2005 Drs. Guenter Schuster and Chris Taylor performed an exhaustive literature search and visited numerous museum collections and compiled a database with over 4,600 records documenting 85 crayfish species from Alabama. Subsequently, with funding supplied on two occasions by the SWG program and independently by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Geological Survey of Alabama staff, Drs. Schuster and Taylor, and associates sampled crayfish in areas of the state that showed a dearth of records based on maps generated from the Schuster and Taylor database and surveyed for species petitioned for listing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The first SWG project (2008-10) added over 760 collection records, documented 64 of 85 species recognized from the state at that time, tightened collection coverage gaps, and recommended a preliminary conservation priority status for each species. In 2012, a group of subject matter experts convened in Auburn, Alabama, for the Third Nongame Wildlife Symposium and provided information on each species known from Alabama at the time. The result was an updated SWAP with conservation priority status designated for each species. Crayfish were included for the first time and 12 species were found to be of Highest Conservation Priority, 30 of High Conservation Priority, 15 of Moderate Conservation Priority, 14 of Low Conservation Priority, and 12 of Lowest Conservation Priority. Another important result of the first SWG project was the need to further close coverage gaps, further address undersampled habitats, and refine species-specific distributional information. The second SWG grant was secured to address those needs (2014-17). Final results of these studies yield about 9,300 records documenting 97 species of crayfishes (94 natives), with 15 state endemics, a few species whose taxonomic status remains unclear, a few undescribed taxa awaiting formal descriptions, and 5 hypothetical species. Another result was the opportunity to make preliminary conservation priority recommendations for species added to the state list or systematically reassigned during the latter phase of the project. We recommended 1 species status be changed to Highest Conservation Priority, 6 others added to Highest Conservation Priority, 4 to High Conservation Priority, 2 to Low Conservation Priority, and 1 to Lowest Conservation Priority. The state list will very likely surpass 100 species upon further research. During our studies 94 of the 97 species known from the state were encountered, with only 3 rare troglobites unobserved (but likely extant).

 

 

Day: 3, Session: 1, Talk: 3

STURE ABRAHAMSSON MEMORIAL LECTURE: Crayfish Color Patterns: Their Overlooked Significance

Guenter A. Schuster

Crayfish colors and color patterns have not been well studied. Horton H. Hobbs, Jr. and others, in descriptions of new species, mostly relied on verbal color pattern descriptions. This began to change with the publication of Raymond Bouchard's late 1980s color poster entitled "America's Crayfish." Since then, crayfish books and color posters representing crayfishes from several states and countries have been published. Now, color photographs are usually included in new species descriptions. State and federal agencies, as well as NGOs, are commonly using color photographs of crayfishes for conservation purposes. This talk addresses the North American cambarid crayfish fauna research on vision, and how color patterns might be useful to crayfishes. It will also address how these color patterns could provide important insight into the biology, behavior, taxonomy and systematics of crayfishes.

 

 

Day: 3, Session: 2, Talk: 3

Crayfish, Conservation, and the Coalfields: A Case Study in the Initiation of a Crayfish Conservation Effort in North America

Zachary J. Loughman

Crayfishes have been recognized as one of the most imperiled animal groups on the planet internationally now for more than a decade. Conservation efforts in Europe and Australia have been many, and respective governments on both continents and their associated conservation agencies have been quick to recognize and protect pockets of diversity and specific highly imperiled species. In North America, most recent efforts have occurred via state level conservation agencies, which when said agencies have effective, forceful legal power, garner extensive protection for crayfish. Not all state level agencies are created equal, and when agencies lack enforcement power, crayfishes and other imperiled species can be eliminated in the names of progress. In these situations, listing as a federally imperiled species becomes paramount for protection of said taxa and their associated current and potential habitat. Cambarus callainus (Big Sandy Crayfish) and Cambarus veteranus (Guyandotte River Crayfish) are two Central Appalachian endemic species of tertiary burrowing crayfish whose populations have experienced drastic declines due to excess sedimentation and other stressors allied with extractive industries and development of riparian corridors. In 2014, a status assessment was written by the United State Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) based on work completed by astacological workers prior to that time, which indicated that water quality threats associated with coal mining, development, and off-road vehicle tourism were likely pressures to both species ability to persist in the coal fields of Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia, and in the case of C. veteranus, West Virginia only. In 2015, a range-wide assessment was completed for both species that involved visiting every historical location as well as over 100 new sample locations. Resultant of this work, current data was acquired that identified the principal current threats to both taxa had not changed, and possibly had gotten worse, which ultimately was used in addition to previous workers data to justify listing both species federally. On April 7th, 2016 C. callainus was listed as threatened and C. veteranus was listed as endangered. Beginning in the spring of 2017, an aggressive conservation campaign was initiated involving federal, nonprofit, and state level conservation agencies to gather data that ultimately will be used to conserve and protect both species. Captive rearing protocols, life history studies of C. callainus and C. veteranus as well as their crayfish associates, telemetry studies, and crayfish community analysis in addition to the creation of a response team for spills associated with extractive industry was created. In addition to research efforts, development of educational workshops for biologists working in the coalfields was also undertaken and initiated in the spring of 2016. Here in a review and case study will be provided detailing this process and the hope for its ultimate utilization in the preservation and future conservation of these highly imperiled central Appalachian endemics.

 

 

Day: 5, Session: 2, Talk: 2

Biogeographic Differences in the Tradeoff Between Foraging and Predator Avoidance Across Native and Non-native Populations of Two Crayfish

LINDSEY REISINGER, Mael G. Glon and Lauren M. Pintor

There is growing evidence that the traits and impacts of species may diverge during the process of biological invasions; however, we still lack a general understanding of how the invasion process affects animal behavior. We used a biogeographic approach to compare foraging and antipredator behavior across a reciprocal invasion (an invasion in which each species was introduced to the native range of the other) of virile (Faxonius virilis) and rusty crayfish (F. rusticus). We hypothesized that the invasion process would select for bold, active individuals that allocate more time to foraging and less time to defense than their native counterparts. We used laboratory experiments to examine crayfish boldness, activity, and foraging voracity and mesocosm experiments to examine shelter use and predator avoidance behavior in response to a predatory fish. The intraspecific variation we observed was often greater in magnitude than interspecific variation, offering new evidence that ecologically important behaviors can vary substantially across the range of a species and may differ between native and non-native populations. Virile crayfish from native populations (Wisconsin, USA) were bolder, more active, and more voracious foragers than those from the species’ non-native range (Indiana, USA), and also displayed reduced antipredator behavior. Rusty crayfish from non-native populations (Wisconsin, USA) also displayed reduced antipredator behavior compared to their native counterparts (Indiana, USA). These results suggest that there is a tradeoff between foraging and predator avoidance in crayfish. Counter to our hypothesis, crayfish behavior did not consistently vary across species based on whether the population was native or non-native. Increased investment in foraging in Wisconsin could be an adaptation to the shorter growing season, and reduced boldness and activity in non-native virile crayfish could be an adaptation to avoid interactions with competitively superior rusty crayfish. Because foraging voracity and predator avoidance are ecologically important traits, the substantial divergence in behavior we observed across the geographic range of each species is likely to alter the ecological impacts of these crayfish on freshwater ecosystems.

 

 

Day: 5, Session: 3, Talk: 2

Population Characteristics of Red Swamp Crayfish Procambarus clarkii from Two Hydrologically Different Large River-floodplain Systems in Southeast Louisiana

ALEXA BALLINGER and Christopher Bonvillain

Anthropogenic modifications to large river-floodplain systems can sever natural water sources, alter annual flood pulses, and disrupt population dynamics of aquatic biota. The Atchafalaya River Basin (ARB) and the upper Barataria Estuary (UBE) in southeast Louisiana are separated by only 25 km and historically shared a similar hydrologic regime. Currently, the ARB receives an annual flood pulse from the Mississippi River that typically inundates floodplain habitats in the spring and dewaters in summer, providing access to floodplain spawning and foraging habitats and environmental cues for crayfish life cycle activities. In contrast, anthropogenic modifications to the UBE have eliminated an annual riverine flood pulse from the Mississippi River and large precipitation events are now the only drivers of floodplain inundation. The purpose of this project is to compare population characteristics of red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii between the ARB and UBE, two hydrologically different large river-floodplain ecosystems. P. clarkii were sampled every two weeks in the ARB and UBE during the 2017 and 2018 crayfish seasons. Sex, carapace length, and male reproductive form were recorded for all captured crayfish and catch per unit effort (CPUE) was determined as the number of crayfish per trap. Water quality was recorded at all sample sites on every sample date and hemolymph samples were collected from P. clarkii at all sample locations to determine hemolymph protein concentration. During the 2017 crayfish season, mean P. clarkii CPUE (3.81 ± 0.21) and carapace length (43.41 ± 0.71 mm) were higher in the ARB compared to the UBE (1.42 ± 0.34; 35.86 ± 0.49 mm). Additionally, ARB mean P. clarkii hemolymph protein concentration (5.1 ± 0.1 g/100 mL) was slightly higher than individuals from the UBE (4.8 ± 0.09 g/100 mL). These results indicate that the modification or absence of a flood pulse can have adverse effects on crayfish populations, threatening the ecological and economical importance of this species in river-floodplain ecosystems. The results from this research will provide a foundation for assessment of future anthropogenic modifications to river-floodplain hydrology and its effect on local aquatic biota.

 

 

Day: 5, Session: 3, Talk: 3

Observations of Chelae Injury in Two Crayfish Species in Three Sinuous Rills

CHESTER R. FIGIEL JR.

Crayfish often lose or autotomize limbs (e.g., chelae) during agonistic conflicts. This defense mechanism increases the probability of surviving the encounter, however can result in long-term functional and energetic costs. For example, chela autotomy influences crayfish competitive ability, foraging time, capacity to obtain mates, and modifies crayfish distribution and behavior. Biotic factors (e.g., population density or predators), as well as abiotic factors (e.g., refugia or habitat complexity) can influence the frequency of injury. In this study, I investigated the prevalence of chela injury (loss or partially regenerated chelae) in two crayfish species (Cambarus striatus and Procambarus spiculifer) that were collected in three sinuous rills (Mountain Creek (MC), Liberty Bell Creek (LB), and Cascade Branch (CB)) in west central Georgia, USA over a four year period. My objectives were to determine if injury was similar among sites, among crayfish species, or varied with time of year. Additionally, within a species my objectives were to examine whether injury differed in crayfish size classes or sex. Cambarus striatus were collected in each of the three streams with the percent injured as follows: MC 15.5%, n = 579; LB 16.3%, n = 1555; and CB 21.3%, n = 1159. There were significantly more injuries from crayfish collected at CB than at the other two streams (p < 0.05). This was most likely driven by the greater percent of injuries in the juvenile size classes (6.0 mm to 15.9 mm carapace length (CL)): CB (24.5%) compared to the similar size classes at LB (16.6%) and MC (15.0%). The frequency of injury between males (18.2%), females (20.0%), or juveniles (19.0%) did not differ significantly nor were there significant differences between Form I (15.6%) and Form II (18.9) males (p > 0.05). Of the 590 C. striatus crayfish having an injury, approximately 13% of these crayfish had both chelae injured. Procambarus spiculifer were collected in each of the three streams (however only 3 individuals were collected at LB so data were not used for that site). The percent injured for P. spiculifer differed significantly between MC 12.1%, n = 727; and CB 23.7%, n = 169 (p < 0.05). There were a greater percent of injuries in the larger adult size classes (> 31.0 mm CL = 26.4%) compared to smaller size classes (< 31.0 mm CL = 9.9%). The frequency of injury among males (13.8%) and females (15.9%) did not differ significantly, however differed from the percent of injured juvenile crayfish (7.3%). Of the 126 P. spiculifer crayfish having an injury, approximately 12% of these crayfish had both chelae injured. The percent of injured crayfish captured varied widely from month to month for both species and no discernable pattern emerged through time. Given the level of injury in these populations, it is vital to understand how injury influences population dynamics of these two species with differing ecological needs and lifestyles.

 

 

Day: 5, Session: 4, Talk: 2

Monitoring Indigenous and Invasive Crayfish and Other Aquatic Species Using Educational Citizen Science and Environmental DNA

SUNE AGERSNAP, Steen Wilhelm Knudsen, Peter Rask Møller, Marie Rathcke Lillemark and Pernille Hjorth

The use of environmental DNA (eDNA) extracted from water samples is a promising tool for early and non-invasive detection of invasive and indigenous crayfish and other aquatic species. However, regular monitoring of large freshwater areas with eDNA are still quite labour intensive. In this presentation I will present preliminary results and experiences from Natural History Museum of Denmark’s citizen science based education program “DNA & LIFE”, where high school students, collect and analyse eDNA samples with the newest species-specific assays and methods. They work in a special DNA-laboratory with high procedural standards that has been established for education. This gives scientists an easy access to a high number of water samples from all over Denmark. At the moment in our “Real Science” project, students work together with scientist to develop and test new assays. During the development of the crayfish assays published in Agersnap et al. 2017. DNA and LIFE did some of the initial testing in 2015 on water samples, and has afterwards tested several waters for crayfish. Since DNA and LIFE started in 2014 more than 6,000 students have collected and analysed eDNA samples from more than 450 lakes and streams covering all of Denmark. And more than 40 different species-specific assays have been tested on freshwater and marine samples. These results can be beneficial to other scientific institutions who want to combine eDNA monitoring with scientific based, educational citizen science.


 

Poster Presentations

 

 

POSTER 51

Investigating the Role of Dishonest Signals of Strength in Interspecific Fights Between Two Arizona Crayfish

ZACK A. GRAHAM and Michael J. Angilletta

Crayfish use their claws to defend territories and routinely engage in combat with competitors. Usually, the crayfish with smaller claws retreats without fighting, even though large claws are not necessarily strong ones. This dishonesty enables crayfish to obtain resources without being a true threat to opponents. The importance of dishonest signals of strength has been demonstrated in intraspecific crayfish fights. But distributions of crayfish often overlap and competition with other crayfish species is expected. Therefore, to understand the role of dishonest signaling in interspecific competition, I observed the fighting behavior of the two invasive Arizona crayfish species; the virile crayfish (Orconectes virilis) and the red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii). I predict that dishonest signals of strength will influence interspecific fights in a similar manner to intraspecific fights. My results demonstrate the importance of investigating dishonest signals of strength in multiple crayfish species. Additionally, I propose that future analysis of dishonest signals may have important implications regarding crayfish invasions.

 

 

POSTER 52

History of Spring River Crayfish (Faxonius roberti) Collections in the Strawberry River, Arkansas

BRIAN K. WAGNER

The Spring River Crayfish (Faxonius roberti) was recently distinguished from the Coldwater Crayfish (Faxonius eupunctus). It encompasses former F. eupunctus range in the Spring and Strawberry river drainages of Missouri and Arkansas. The species was first detected in the Strawberry River basin in a tributary stream in 1972 and the main river in 1974, neither of which have yielded specimens in more recent sampling efforts. The next reported observation was in 2006 from the main stem at a low water crossing 17.6 km downstream. A 2010-11 range-wide study of F. eupunctus only collected 4 individuals from one site in the basin using a quantitative kick-seine method that was much more effective in the other basins, suggesting a much lower abundance in the Strawberry. Additional effort in 2011 utilizing snorkeling and hand capture of crayfish was able to extend the documented range downstream an additional 14.3 km from the 2006 collection. Beginning in 2016 efforts began to attain a more detailed understanding of the species' range in this river by kayaking between access points and conducting snorkel searches by 2-3 divers at every 2nd to 3rd riffle encountered. These efforts documented 8 additional sites, including one 9 km upstream of the 2006 site. In 2017 efforts continued by making kayak trips above and below the area surveyed in 2016, requiring kayaking back to the put-in point at the end of the survey. In the upstream collection this included searching an additional 2 km above the site of the 1974 collection, but did not locate any occupied sites in this direction. Downstream searches were more productive, extending the occupied stream reach by 17.1 km. Combined this documents that F. roberti currently occupies at minimum 15 sites over a 40.4 km section of the Strawberry River.

 

 

POSTER 53

Fishery-dependent Stock Assessment of Crayfish in the Eastern Atchafalaya River Basin

GABRIELLE A. SISSON and Christopher P. Bonvillain

Stock assessments are vital in fisheries management to monitor past and current status on population size and structure, and the potential responses of the fishery to future management decisions. However, there have not been extensive stock assessments for crayfish in the Atchafalaya River Basin (ARB), the largest wild crayfish fishery in Louisiana. Conducting crayfish stock assessments in the ARB have been difficult due lack of population data and reporting from harvesters, and the enormous spatial scale of the ARB. The purpose of this research is to obtain an extensive stock assessment for crayfish in the eastern ARB (east of the Atchafalaya River) by partnering with a local crayfish processor that purchases crayfish from harvesters throughout the eastern ARB. Harvest data collected from individual crayfish harvesters includes the total number of traps used, total weight of crayfish collected, and ARB spatial zone where crayfish were harvested (upper, middle, lower). Crayfish population characteristics (species, sex, carapace length, and male reproductive form) were examined weekly from three sub-samples of at least 400 individuals from different harvesters in each ARB zone (1,200 crayfish per week in each zone). Additionally, a minimum 100 female Procambarus clarkii were collected monthly from three different harvesters in each ARB zone (a total of 900 females per month, 300 from each zone) to determine the monthly percent ovigerous females. When eggs were present the gonad development was classified into five maturation stages based on egg color. The results from this research will provide novel, high-quality fisheries-dependent data for the stock assessment of the eastern ARB crayfish fishery.

 

 

POSTER 57

Water Quality Analysis and Habitat Threats Concerning Cambarus cracens on Sand Mountain in Northeast Alabama

Rebecca A. Bearden, E. Anne Wynn, Patrick E. O’Neil, STUART W. McGREGOR, Guenter A. Schuster and Christopher A. Taylor

Understanding habitat threats for species of concern is paramount for establishing effective conservation strategies. Although the Slenderclaw Crayfish, Cambarus cracens, was found in the 1970s at five sites in Scarham, Short, and Town creeks on Sand Mountain in northeast Alabama, surveys in 2011 found the species at only a single site in Scarham Creek. Our goals were to determine the current range of this species and identify any water quality issues or habitat threats that may be causing its decline. We conducted status surveys for C. cracens at 71 sites in northeastern Alabama and northwestern Georgia from 2015 to 2017 and collected the species in low abundance at five sites in Scarham and Town creeks. We also collected the invasive Virile Crayfish, Faxonius virilis, in Short Creek, revealing a possible recent threat to the status of C. cracens. Our water quality surveys in Scarham, Short, and Town creeks in 2015 and 2016 revealed elevated levels of ammonia, nitrate and phosphorus, concentrations of lead and zinc that exceeded aquatic life criteria, the presence of pesticides, and concentrations of bacteria that exceeded established limits. Our land use analysis confirmed intense poultry production and high levels of human disturbance in Scarham, Short, and Town creeks. In order to conserve remaining populations of C. cracens, we recommend continued efforts at establishing watershed projects to reduce pollutant loads, promoting best management practices for agriculture, and monitoring future water-quality trends to help assure the integrity of water quality in these tributaries and assist in improving habitat quality throughout the Scarham, Short, and Town Creek watersheds.

 

 

POSTER 66

Dispersal and a Large River: Patterns of Genetic Diversity in an Imperiled, Small-stream Adapted Crayfish, Cambarus pristinus

BROOKE A. GRUBB, John W. Johansen and Rebecca E. Blanton

Crayfishes are a diverse group of freshwater decapods. Many North American crayfishes have small geographic ranges and are considered imperiled due to a variety of factors that threaten their persistence. Several factors, including fragmented habitats and corridor quality, affect dispersal ability and gene flow. Decreases in gene flow among populations can contribute to increasing genetic drift and inbreeding depression, which leads to a loss of genetic variability within populations and can reduce the adaptive potential of a species. Cambarus pristinus (Pristine Crayfish) has a small range on the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee, where it occupies small tributaries of the Caney Fork River and lower order (<4th) reaches of the mainstem Caney Fork. Because the majority of the mainstem is larger than 4th order, it may limit dispersal and gene flow among populations of the different tributary systems. To examine contemporary and historic levels of genetic structure across the Caney Fork River mainstem, chelae from 20-30 individuals from two localities in each tributary will be collected. DNA extracted from the muscle of the chelae will be used to examine patterns of genetic structure using 20 microsatellite loci amplified from species-specific primers and the mitochondrial COI gene. Preliminary data summarizing progress on microsatellite primer optimization and locus identification and genetic structure among populations based on the COI gene will be presented and discussed.

 

 

POSTER 69

The Life History of Cambarus robustus

GREGORY A. MYERS, David J. Foltz II., Emmy M. Delekta and Zachary J. Loughman

Crayfishes are the third most imperiled taxa in North America and are valuable keystone species in freshwater ecosystems. Cambarus veteranus is a narrow endemic in West Virginia recently listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service as endangered. Cambarus robustus is a common species of crayfish that's closely related to C. veteranus, making it a suitable surrogate for investigations into the life history of C. veteranus. From June 2016 to July 2017, a collection of thirty individual C. robustus was made monthly. Gender, reproductive form, morphometric data (TCL, AbL, AbW, ChL, PaW), and natural history observations were recorded for each individual. When ovigerous females were encountered, they were placed in 80% EtOH and taken back to the lab where eggs were counted. A single ovigerous female was collected with a full load of eggs (n=94). Male C. robustus reached sexual maturity at 30.8mm TCL, and females reached sexual maturity at 37.3mm TCL. Brooding females were encountered invariably in a very specific microhabitat that may be pertinent to the conservation of this species. The results of this study will be useful for future life history studies of Cambarus, including imperiled taxa such as C. veteranus.

 

 

POSTER 73

Comparing the Efficacy of Conventional Funnel Versus Artificial Refuge Traps

NICOLA GREEN, Paul Stebbing, Matt Bentley, Demetra Andreou and Rob Britton

Many methods of controlling crayfish have been attempted but few target all life stages of the population. The most commonly used method, the funnel or baited trap, is known to be size and sex biased, making control attempts via this method ineffective. This study compared funnel traps with artificial refuge traps, which mimic crayfish habitat features and, because they do not ‘capture’ individuals, can be left in situ for long periods. Results from a two-year study on a lotic system indicate that the artificial refuge traps caught more crayfish and were more cost efficient than the funnel traps. They were also found to be unbiased with regard to sex and caught a far wider size range, including young of year crayfish, and high numbers of moulting and ovigerous individuals, providing useful information on life-history traits.


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