Effects of small impoundments on downstream crayfish assemblages
Dams and impoundments, both large and small, affect downstream physicochemical characteristics and up- and downstream biotic communities. I tested whether small dams and their impoundments altered downstream crayfish assemblages in northern Mississippi. I sampled crayfish and measured physicochemical variables at 4 sites downstream of impoundments (outlet sites) and 4 sites not influenced by impoundments (undammed sites) in August, September, and November 2004. In November 2010, I sampled 7 undammed, 6 outlet, and 3 intermediate sites (influenced by beaver activity or ,1 km downstream of an impoundment). Crayfish assemblages differed between undammed and outlet sites. Catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) of Orconectes (Trisellescens) sp. was higher in undammed than outlet sites in both years. Procambarus (Pennides) spp. CPUE was lower in undammed than outlet sites in November 2010 and nearly so in November 2004. In 2004, Procambarus (Ortmannicus) hayi was common in autumn at outlet sites but virtually absent from undammed sites, but in 2010, P. hayi CPUE did not differ between categories. Cambarus striatus CPUE, which was low overall, did not differ between categories in 2004 but was higher in undammed sites in 2010. Seasonal differences among taxa in reproductive timing were important to understanding impoundment effects. The most consistent difference in habitat was that undammed sites had significantly higher width:depth ratios than did outlet sites. Based on the number of mapped small impoundments and a conservative estimate that each impoundment influenced crayfish assemblages over 2 km, I estimated that impoundments probably affect crayfish assemblages in .284 km of stream in the upper Little Tallahatchie River subbasin. Extrapolated to the entire Gulf Coastal Plain, impoundments may influence crayfish assemblages over thousands of stream kilometers.