Date of Award

12-2006

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Wildlife and Fisheries Biology

Advisor

Eversole, Arnold G

Abstract

The distribution and habitat associations of three primary burrowing crayfish species were examined at the landscape and patch scales. GIS based predictors were used to model the species occurrence across the study landscapes and vegetation structure data were used to model crayfish abundance within landscape patches. Distocambarus crockeri, a species endemic to the piedmont physiographic region of South Carolina was a terrestrial habitat specialist at broad because of its association with well drained ridge-top soils. Within these soils D. crockeri were dependent on open treeless habitats. The species habitat was consistent with early descriptions of the region and suggested that prairies were a regular component of the historical piedmont landscape. Fallicambarus gordoni, a species endemic to a small portion of the inner-coastal plain of Mississippi built extensive burrows and inhabited conspicuous colonies with discrete boundaries within the study area. The species distribution across the landscape was predictable and defined by edaphic patches where soil morphology resulted in seasonal perched water tables. Within these edaphic patches, the species was restricted to open canopy habitat with a savanna structure. Cambarus batchi, a primary burrower endemic to the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky, was associated with soils characterized by a fragipan within the study area. Within these soils, a vegetation structure consistent with the pre-settlement prairie savanna mosaic of the Bluegrass Region best approximated C. batchi habitat. The body of research also demonstrated the benefit of multi-scale habitat models for primary burrowing crayfish conservation and illustrated the spatial information associated with taxa that are endemics and habitat specialists.

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