Ecology of Aquatic and Terrestrial Fauna

  • A Selection of our Recent Publications...

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  • Visit our Crayfishes of Mississippi Website...


    Crayfishes of MS website header

    Procambarus bargiger

    Mississippi has one of the most diverse crayfish faunas in the world and is home to at least 17 endemic species (meaning they occur nowhere else).

    View our Mississippi species list, photo galleries, fact sheets, distribution maps, and more.

    Download a free poster featuring over 30 color photos of Mississippi crayfishes.

  • Will biofuels treatments harm the Shutispear crayfish?

    Cooperative research with Weyerhaeuser is currently underway to assess the impacts of biofuels treatments to known populations of Procambarus lylei, the Shutispear crayfish, on Weyerhaeuser land. The species is a Mississippi "species of greatest conservation need", and is listed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List as "endangered". Early sampling efforts revealed the presence of Hobbseus yalobushensis, another crayfish species of high conservation concern under several ranking systems.

    Sampling for crayfish on Weyerhaeuser land

    The study has been expanded to allow for more extensive sampling to clarify the distributional extent of the species on Weyerhaeuser land and to better understand the species ecology.Dr. Susan Adams is lead CBHR scientist on this project.

  • Is habitat fragmentation endangering the Yazoo Darter?

    That certainly seems to be the case. A recent study by Dr. Mel Warren, Mr. Ken Sterling (formerly with the Center, now Utah State University), and other university cooperators suggests that extensive habitat alteration in the form of impoundments, road, crossings, and channelized streams is creating barriers to disbursement and isolating entire populations of Etheostoma raneyi (Yazoo Darter). Recent and severe declines in contemporary migration rates relative to historical rates were also indicated. The Final Report to the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, which includes discussion of the genetic effects of habitat fragmentation as well as recommended management practices, was released November 30, 2011.

    A Yazoo Darter with atypical (blue) coloring

    Learn more about the Yazoo Darter and this project.

  • What mussel shell "rings" are telling us

    Freshwater mussels are among the longest-lived animals on Earth (up to nearly 200 years). As they grow, mussels form annual rings in their shells -- much like tree rings -- that can be used to determine an individual's age. Dr. Wendell Haag’s research has refined and extended techniques for studying these rings (please see our photo album "Aging Mussel Shells"), and he is investigating the many other things they can tell us about mussel ecology and aquatic ecosystems in general.

    A mussel shell

    One of the first surprises was that lifespan varies greatly among species. Some are indeed long-lived (>50 years), but others may live only 4-5 years suggesting that mussels use a broad range of life history strategies. Second, growth varies considerably and predictably according to hydrologic and climatic factors. Third, even slight disturbances cause mussels to form distinctive rings that can be distinguished from normal, annual rings. Annual patterns of growth and occurrence of disturbance rings potentially provide a valuable record of changing habitat conditions over time.

    Along with collaborators, Haag has published five papers on this research to date, and is currently analyzing large scale growth patterns including an effort to build continuous growth histories stretching back >100 years.

  • New Interactive Map Tool for Yazoo Darter Research

    Yazoo Darter researchers now have a new tool in their arsenal thanks to EATF team members Dr. Mel Warren and Ken Sterling.

    All known collections of fish within the range of the Yazoo Darter (Etheostoma raneyi), have been compiled into a single "published" map which can be interactively explored by researchers using free ArcReader software. The data can be viewed in a variety of different ways, with and without supporting layers such as ecological levels and hydrologic unit codes, and expanded habitat attributes are included where available. For more information contact Dr. Mel Warren.

  • New Book By Dr. Wendell Haag Provides First Comprehensive Review of North American Freshwater Mussel Ecology and Conservation Efforts

    Available from Cambridge University Press, Dr. Haag's new book North American Freshwater Mussels uses historical and contemporary information as well as the author's own original research to chronicle in detail the history, ecology, and conservation of the approximately 300 species of North American freshwater mussels.

    Learn more about Dr. Haag and his research

    Book:  North American Freshwater Mussels
  • Dr. Susan Adams' Crayfish Research Featured in USDA Blog


    The post, Trashy Life: Crayfish Turn Rubbish into a Home, is part of the USDA Blog's Science Tuesday feature series and highlights findings from Dr. Adams' recent publication in the journal Environmental Management. This publication, Crayfish Use of Trash Versus Natural Cover in Incised, Sand-Bed Streams, is available for download in PDF format through Treesearch.

    Learn more about Dr. Adams and her research