Integrative Biology

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Doctoral Defense by Caitlin Bloomer

Event Type
Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
101 Geo. Survey Conference Room, Natural Resources Building
Jun 27, 2023   10:00 am  
Originating Calendar
NRES Events

Where the Crawdads Sing: Examining biogeographic patterns of burrowing crayfish through diet and habitat use

A subset of North America’s diverse crayfish fauna has evolved to become semi-terrestrial by creating and inhabiting deep and complex burrows, where they spend most of their lives. This subterranean habitat makes burrowing crayfish difficult to sample and results in a paucity of data on their distributions, habitat use, and natural history. In this dissertation, I examined the impact of land management on local distributions and found that burrowing species, as non-target taxa, can still benefit from conservation practices. I used ecological niche modeling to explore if generalist burrowing species display niche conservatism and can act as distributional surrogates. Finally, I tested the niche breadth – range size hypothesis on wide-ranging and narrowly endemic species. I found that burrowing crayfish do not always exhibit patterns expected from traditional ecological theory. These findings provide empirical data on crayfish distributions as well as build theoretical knowledge on the evolution of biogeographical patterns in a historically under-examined group of organisms.

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