Stream permanence is related to crayfish occupancy and abundance in the Ozark Highlands, USA

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Abstract

Crayfish use of intermittent streams is especially important to understand in the face of global climate change. We examined the influence of stream permanence and local habitat on crayfish occupancy and species densities in the Ozark Highlands, USA. We sampled in June and July 2014 and 2015. We used a quantitative kick-seine method to sample crayfish presence and abundance at 20 stream sites with 32 surveys/site in the Upper White River drainage, and we measured associated local environmental variables each year. We modeled site occupancy and detection probabilities with the software PRESENCE, and we used multiple linear regressions to identify relationships between crayfish species densities and environmental variables. Occupancy of all crayfish species was related to stream permanence. Faxonius meeki was found exclusively in intermittent streams, whereas Faxonius neglectus and Faxonius luteus had higher occupancy and detection probability in permanent than in intermittent streams, and Faxonius williamsi was associated with intermittent streams. Estimates of detection probability ranged from 0.56 to 1, which is high relative to values found by other investigators. With the exception of F. williamsi, species densities were largely related to stream permanence rather than local habitat. Species densities did not differ by year, but total crayfish densities were significantly lower in 2015 than 2014. Increased precipitation and discharge in 2015 probably led to the lower crayfish densities observed during this year. Our study demonstrates that crayfish distribution and abundance is strongly influenced by stream permanence. Some species, including those of conservation concern (i.e., F. williamsi, F. meeki), appear dependent on intermittent streams, and conservation efforts should include consideration of intermittent streams as an important component of freshwater biodiversity.

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Yarra, A. N., & Magoulick, D. D. (2018). Stream permanence is related to crayfish occupancy and abundance in the Ozark Highlands, USA. Freshwater Science, 37(1), 54–63. https://doi.org/10.1086/696020

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