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projects > life history, ecology, and interactions of everglades crayfishes in response to hydrological restoration

Life History, Ecology, and Interactions of Everglades Crayfishes in Response to Hydrological Restoration

photo of a channel through mangroves
Project Investigators: William Loftus, David Armstrong, Christian Grue

Project Personnel: A. Noble Hendrix

Project Start Date: 1995 End Date: 2002


Summary

The objectives of the study were to obtain seasonal abundance information in habitats spanning a hydrological gradient; describe life-history parameters pertinent to ATLSS modeling; study the interactions that explain the distributional patterns evident from field sampling through mesocosm experiments; and, use the data to create simulation models of crayfish distribution and dynamics.

This six-year study to investigate the life histories and ecology of major aquatic invertebrate species in the Everglades has been completed. The original proposal to study the Everglades crayfish (Procambarus alleni) was of limited scope that included the collection of density and biomass data for the crayfish across a hydrological gradient. A dramatic finding was the recognition of a second species of crayfish, Procambarus fallax, in the study marshes.

Procambarus fallax was previously known to range southward only into Palm Beach County. It was overlooked or misidentified in previous studies. We expanded the study to (1) obtain seasonal abundance information in habitats spanning a hydrological gradient in Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve; (2) describe life-history parameters pertinent to ATLSS modeling, including burrowing seasonality, fecundity, growth, and diet, of each species; (3) study the interspecific interactions that explain the distributional patterns evident from field sampling through mesocosm experiments; (4) and use the data to create simulation models of crayfish distribution and dynamics in the system to evaluate restoration actions.

This study provided the first database of the relative abundance, life histories, ecology, and standing stocks of the two crayfish species in several habitat types from south Florida. The empirical data are the first available for the two species that inhabit southern Florida, making them scientifically valuable. We have used a retrospective analysis of archived samples to show that P. fallax and P. alleni distributions and abundances are dynamically related to the hydrological conditions of an area. This fact makes crayfish distribution a good predictor for use in the restoration, and will be used as a performance measure.

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Script last updated: 23 October 2018 @ 12:03 PM by THF. Record creator: BJM. Record last updated by: TJE.