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The distribution and habitat association of native and introduced crayfish in urban wetlands

Emery-Butcher, Holly (2016) The distribution and habitat association of native and introduced crayfish in urban wetlands. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

As urbanisation puts increasing pressure on biodiversity, there is growing need to conserve biodiversity outside of protected areas. Anthropogenic wetlands (i.e. human created) may offer a way to do this by providing habitat for species such as crayfish. As the distribution and habitat association of freshwater crayfish in Swan Coastal Plain wetlands is largely unknown, the aims of this study were: to identify the habitat characteristics associated with the presence and absence of introduced (Cherax destructor) and native (Cherax quinquecarinatus) freshwater crayfish in the Beeliar and Jandakot wetlands on the Swan Coastal Plain; to compare the distribution and habitat use of introduced C. destructor and native C. quinquecarinatus between natural and anthropogenic urban wetlands. Fifty-three wetlands were sampled for crayfish using baited box traps and sweep nets between May and September 2016. Habitat characteristics were documented using rapid assessment and water quality variables recorded. Log-linear modelling and ANOSIM were then used to examine the association between crayfish and habitat characteristics. Crayfish distribution was much more limited than expected, and they were absent from 29 (55%) wetlands. Unfortunately, C. quinquecarinatus were not found in large enough numbers to model alone, so the data from this species was pooled with that of other native crayfish. Crayfish presence was most strongly associated with water regime and wetland type. Native species were associated mainly with ease of wetland accessibility to humans and wetland type whereas invasive C. destructor was associated primarily with anthropogenic wetlands and ease of accessibility. This study increases our understanding of the distribution and habitat association of crayfishes on the SCP and has important implications in terms of community education and habitat restoration in both natural and anthropogenic wetlands.

Publication Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Supervisor: Robson, Belinda and Beatty, Stephen
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/35230
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