Multi-faceted “mudbugs”: how ecology, hydrogeology, and geomorphology influence burrowing crayfish biodiversity in alabama’s black belt prairie

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dc.contributor Howeth, Jennifer G.
dc.contributor Ferguson, Paige F.
dc.contributor Atkinson, Carla L.
dc.contributor Dimova, Natasha T.
dc.contributor Schuster, Guenter A.
dc.contributor.advisor Huryn, Alexander D. Bearden, Rebecca Ann 2021-05-12T16:28:41Z 2021-05-12T16:28:41Z 2020-12
dc.identifier.other u0015_0000001_0003758
dc.identifier.other Bearden_alatus_0004D_14326
dc.description Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
dc.description.abstract Aquatic species are facing imperilment at a disproportionate rate compared to terrestrial species and thus higher probabilities of extinction. The southeastern United States has an exceptionally high level of freshwater biodiversity, supporting the majority of the nation’s fish, mussel, and crayfish species. Crayfish research, in particular, is significant to conservation efforts, as nearly half of the crayfish species in the southeastern United States are threatened. Through their signature burrowing strategy, many crayfish bridge the gap between aquatic and terrestrial communities, especially in floodplain habitats. Floodplains are highly heterogeneous and harbor a high diversity of species, yet our understanding of species-habitat relationships within these complex ecosystems remains incomplete and may hinder conservation. I studied floodplains in the Bogue Chitto Creek watershed in the Black Belt Prairie region of Alabama to investigate: 1) activity patterns of primary burrowing crayfish and 2) local and landscape level environmental factors that may affect burrowing crayfish distribution. In Chapter 2, I used motion-triggered digital photography to document activity patterns for two primary burrowing crayfish. I found that out-of-burrow activity was greatest at night and during periods of relatively cool groundwater temperatures and relatively warm air temperatures, which may be linked to thermal regulation. In Chapter 3, I examined relationships between burrowing crayfish presence and species composition and local hydrogeological factors. Results suggested an increased likelihood that crayfish were present at sites with a shallow water table, and that species composition was marginally associated with depth to groundwater and inundation duration. In Chapter 4, I investigated associations between burrowing crayfish presence and species composition and geomorphological factors. I found that crayfish were more likely to be present in areas that were not in the channel migration path, areas near streams with a greater sinuosity, areas with greater floodplain connectivity, and areas with less forested land use. The combined results of my studies in the Bogue Chitto Creek watershed suggest that projects embracing integrated, multidisciplinary approaches to surface and groundwater hydrology as drivers of biodiversity should be a priority for research related to the conservation of burrowing crayfish populations and communities.
dc.format.extent 131 p.
dc.format.medium electronic
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language English
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.publisher University of Alabama Libraries
dc.relation.ispartof The University of Alabama Electronic Theses and Dissertations
dc.relation.ispartof The University of Alabama Libraries Digital Collections
dc.relation.hasversion born digital
dc.rights All rights reserved by the author unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subject.other Ecology
dc.subject.other Biology
dc.subject.other Environmental geology
dc.title Multi-faceted “mudbugs”: how ecology, hydrogeology, and geomorphology influence burrowing crayfish biodiversity in alabama’s black belt prairie
dc.type thesis
dc.type text University of Alabama. Department of Biological Sciences Biological Sciences The University of Alabama doctoral Ph.D.

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