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Physical habitat and water quality correlates of crayfish distributions in a mined watershed

November 12, 2014

In mined watersheds, water quality alters aquatic faunas, but few studies have focused on associations between stream habitat and crayfish distributions. We examined associations of water quality and physical habitat quality on presence/absence of six crayfish species in the upper Kanawha River drainage of southern West Virginia, USA, a region with a long history of surface and mountaintop removal mining of coal. Data supported an association of physical habitat quality with the presence of four species (Cambarus carinirostris, Cambarus robustus, Cambarus cf. sciotensis, and Orconectes sanbornii). Cambarus bartonii cavatus and the non-native Orconectes virilis were associated with lower quality physical habitat than that of the other four species. Relative to other species, C. b. cavatus was associated with the lowest conductivity values, whereas O. virilis was associated with the highest conductivity values. Secondary and tertiary burrowers were generally associated with relatively high-quality physical habitat. However, C. b. cavatus, a crayfish known to burrow extensively in headwater streams, was associated with the lowest quality physical habitat. Physical habitat quality was generally supported over stream conductivity as a variable influencing crayfish distributions. Our data demonstrate the importance of stream habitat quality when assessing crayfish assemblages within mined watersheds.

Publication Year 2014
Title Physical habitat and water quality correlates of crayfish distributions in a mined watershed
DOI 10.1007/s10750-014-2095-y
Authors Stuart A. Welsh, Zachary J. Loughman
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Hydrobiologia
Index ID 70173416
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Leetown