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Using the spatial information implicit in the habitat specificity of the burrowing crayfish Distocambarus crockeri to identify a lost landscape component


  • Shane M. Welch,

  • Arnold G. Eversole,

  • Jeanne Riley

S. M. Welch ( and A. G. Eversole, Dept of Forestry and Natural Resources, 261 Lehotsky Hall, Clemson Univ., Clemson, SC 29634, USA. – J. Riley, Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests, 4931 Broad River Road, Columbia, SC 29212, USA.


Historical ecology can be used to model past environments and identify reference conditions for restoration efforts. The primary burrowing crayfish Distocambarus crockeri exhibits a high degree of habitat specialization and is largely limited to open canopied terrestrial habitats maintained along roadsides, utility rights-of-way, and agricultural field edges within a portion of the South Carolina piedmont, USA. Crayfish abundance, vegetation structure, and negative binomial regression were used to model the habitat of D. crockeri. Modeling indicated that within a community-defined landscape patch context, D. crockeri was a prairie specialist. Historical descriptions of areas within the species’ range indicated that prairie-like habitats (piedmont prairies) were a regular component of the landscape. The congruence between habitat models and historical data indicate that prairie habitat was a natural component of the historic piedmont landscape and that the habitat specificity of D. crockeri contained spatial information about this lost landscape component.

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