Landscape- and local-scale habitat influences on distribution and abundance of the crayfish Faxonius eupunctus, Faxonius wagneri and Faxonius roberti in the Spring River, Strawberry River and Eleven Point River drainages
June 2022 - June 2025
- Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
Crayfish are extremely important in most freshwater systems, typically acting as keystone species. Faxonius eupunctus was already a rare, endemic that occurs in the Ozark Highlands of Arkansas and Missouri and was under consideration by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for listing under the Endangered Species Act. However, recent research has indicated F. eupunctus consists of three separate species: one species occurring in the upper Eleven Point River (Faxonius eupunctus), one in the lower Eleven Point River (Faxonius wagneri), and one in the Spring River and Strawberry River drainages (Faxonius roberti). Previous research by our team has examined factors affecting habitat use, selection, distribution and abundance of F. roberti in the Spring River drainage, as well as factors affecting habitat use, selection, distribution and abundance of the F. eupunctus complex as a whole. However, little, if any, research has examined factors affecting habitat use, selection, distribution and abundance of these newly described species within their native ranges. We propose to determine landscape- and local-scale factors affecting habitat use, selection, distribution and abundance of F. eupunctus, F. roberti and F. wagneri by modeling species distribution then probabilistically sampling stream sites from their known range. We will also examine streambank erosion and instability in the study area and relate this, along with other environmental factors, to F. eupunctus, F. roberti and F. wagneri distribution and abundance. It is important for managers to understand the status and threats to SGCN crayfish species, especially F. eupunctus, F. roberti and F. wagneri, given that they are geographically restricted and potentially susceptible to anthropogenic and natural disturbance. Information gained here will ultimately be used to make decisions regarding the conservation of F. eupunctus, F. roberti and F. wagneri, and will inform decisions regarding other species that are potentially at risk from similar threats (e.g., Cambarus hubbsi, Faxonius meeki, Faxonius williamsi, Faxonius luteus, Faxonius punctimanus, Faxonius ozarkae, Faxonius neglectus chaeondactylus).