The threat of cleaning up the problem: how restored habitats and increasing proportions of invasive crayfish are impacting ecosystem structuring

Project Overview
Project Abstract: 
<p>The increasing expansion of the rusty crayfish, <em>Orconectes rusticus</em>, beyond its native range threatens to displace the native species, <em>Orconectes virilis</em>, and disrupt the community structure of the invaded ecosystem. Given their larger body size, more aggressive behaviors, and higher rates of consumption, &nbsp;<em>O. rusticus</em>&nbsp;has been shown to outcompete <em>O. virilis</em>&nbsp;for food and shelter resources. Although differences in abundance of community structure in the presence of <em>O. rusticus</em> compared to <em>O. virilis</em> has been quantified, research identifying the changes in community structure with increasing ratios of <em>O. rusticus</em> to <em>O. virilis</em> is lacking. Furthermore, there is a lack of studies examining changes in community composition when chemically-mediated behaviors of crayfish have been impaired by eco-toxins. &nbsp;This study aims to identify the indicative changes in community structure as populations shift with differing ratios of <em>O. rusticus </em>to <em>O. virilis</em>. We aim to identify key characteristics within a community that signal a certain degree of invasion. In addition, we will examine changes in community composition during times of habitat pollution when chemoreception is inhibited.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p>