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Keywords:

  • riparian management;
  • remnant vegetation;
  • riparian restoration;
  • freshwater crayfish

Abstract

  • 1.
    Freshwater crayfish that burrow into river banks are likely to be affected by riparian land uses that affect soil conditions and vegetation cover. The aim of this research was to determine whether burrow densities of two crayfish species (Engaeus sericatus Clark and Geocharax gracilis Clark) were associated with riparian land use and vegetation type in three streams in south-west Victoria, Australia.
  • 2.
    Four riparian land-use categories were studied on each stream: native forest blocks; thin strips of mature native vegetation, fenced, with pasture adjacent; riparian pasture areas, fenced, with no cattle access to the stream; pasture and cattle access to the water's edge. Crayfish burrows were counted and a range of water quality and riparian condition variables were measured.
  • 3.
    Native forest areas were found to have more than twice the densities of freshwater crayfish burrows than other land uses, which did not differ. Native forest areas also had higher mean burrow mound heights but lower burrow activity levels. Riparian characteristics also differed between land uses. In particular, soil compaction was the lowest in native forest areas, which also had better riparian condition scores and water quality than pasture areas.
  • 4.
    This study suggests that cattle grazing may have reduced populations of burrowing crayfish in these streams, and that subsequent fencing and the presence of remnant native vegetation may be insufficient to ameliorate these effects. Blocks of native forest that remain on these streams may act as an important refuge for these species in agricultural areas.

Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.