Sunday, June 19, 2016

Crayfish may help restore dirty streams, Stroud study finds

Public Release: 21-Apr-2016
Crayfish may help restore dirty streams, Stroud study finds
Stroud study finds crayfish may benefit insects, reduce sediment settling in impaired streams
Stroud Water Research Center

While macroinvertebrates are a tasty food source for crayfish, a new study reveals a surprising finding: When crayfish were present in in-stream experimental enclosures, macroinvertebrate density was higher, not lower.


The scientists placed wire-mesh enclosures, some with crayfish inside and some without, in the creek. At the conclusion of the 2-week experiment, populations of macroinvertebrates such as caddisflies, which can indicate better water quality, were higher in the crayfish enclosures despite being a food source for crayfish.


So even if the crayfish were eating some of the macroinvertebrates, we think that all of the fine sediment that had been suspended and washed away created a more macroinvertebrate-friendly habitat."

Many macroinvertebrates don't like to live in streams with high sediment loads. It's a type of pollution that degrades freshwater streams and can be traced to land-use changes like agriculture and development.

Daniels said, "Crayfish show the potential to alleviate some of the problems seen in impaired streams. Every organism has its part in an ecosystem, and we're still learning what the individual roles are."

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