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Application of hydrogeophysical techniques to study the distribution of a burrowing crayfish in a wetland

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Crayfish are important in wetland systems because of their function in soil nutrient turnover. Since many crayfishes are imperiled by anthropogenic activities, it is important to understand factors that are associated with their distribution within and among wetlands. This study investigated the soil and hydrogeological characteristics of a wetland and related them to the spatial distribution of crayfish burrows found within it. The study utilized field-collected soil cores, electrical resistivity, and ground penetrating radar to map subsurface characteristics at Bartram Forest, Baldwin County, Georgia. Wetland delineation was also conducted in the field to establish the wetland boundaries. Both 2D and 3D geophysical profiles were created. Soils samples were analyzed for grain size distribution, porosity, and hydraulic conductivity in the lab. Hydraulic conductivity of the wetland soils was also determined in the field using slug tests. Results show subsurface physical differences between crayfish inhabited zones of the wetland and those that do not have crayfish burrows.The Ambiguous Crayfish, Cambarus striatus was found in soils with a hydraulic conductivity of 0.01–0.4 m/day where soils outside of their colony boundary had a hydraulic conductivity of 0.4–1.2 m/day. Areas where C. striatus were located had a higher porosity (0.36) than areas without crayfish (0.26). Subsurface stratigraphy varied between the areas with and without burrows. C. striatus was found to live in a subsurface with relatively gradual stratigraphical boundaries when compared to surrounding areas.

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The authors would like to thank Georgia College & State University, The College of Arts and Sciences, and the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences for partial funding of this project. The authors would like to acknowledge Christine Mutiti, Brady Bennett, Matthew Sweat, Houston Chandler, John Rigdon, Judson Pittman, Clay Windsor, Brent Jones, Tyler Mattix, and Taylor Upole for their assistance with field work and data collection.

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Correspondence to Sarah C. Sweat.

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Sweat, S.C., Mutiti, S. & Skelton, C.E. Application of hydrogeophysical techniques to study the distribution of a burrowing crayfish in a wetland. Wetlands Ecol Manage 25, 149–158 (2017).

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