From wading into streams to crunching numbers on datasets, Phillip Bumpers, the River Basin Center’s research coordinator, has dedicated his career to furthering human understanding of the complex freshwater ecosystems in Southeastern streams and rivers.Continue reading
Freshwater crabs play an important role in the breakdown of nutrients from natural materials that fall into streams, but few studies have looked into exactly how their relationships with other detritivores and the leaf litter itself impacts ecosystems.
River Basin Center graduate student Carol Yang shed light on these relationships in neotropical streams in two recently published papers.
In a paper published in Freshwater Biology, Yang did an in-stream experiment in Monteverde, Costa Rica to examine the leaf litter in enclosures that contained crabs as compared to enclosures without crabs. One dynamic that Yang and colleagues hoped to learn more about was the relationship between crabs and other detritivores—which contribute to leaf breakdown, but that crabs frequently prey upon.
Throughout the study, Yang and collaborators regularly sampled the leaf litter. They found that enclosures with crabs had faster rates of breakdown than those without, indicating that their manipulation and consumption of leaves had a larger impact than their consumption of other detritivores and shredders.
In a follow up study published in Nauplius, Yang used a laboratory setting to gain a more in-depth understanding of the crab behaviors that most impacted leaf litter. The crabs were collected from Monteverde, Costa Rica, and transported to aquariums along with unfiltered stream water and leaves from a common subcanopy tree.
Yang and colleagues found that the leaf mass was significantly higher in tanks with crabs than those without. They also used visual observations and recordings to watch as the crabs used their claws to grasp and shred the leaves, which aided in ingestion. At the end of the experiment, they observed that leaves in tanks with crabs were broken up into multiple pieces, whereas leaves in tanks without them remained whole.
These studies suggest that crabs play an important role in helping to process the detritus that accumulates in neotropical streams, especially given their abundance in tropical streams.
Written by: Ansley Nash
As climate change causes rising temperatures and changes in rainfall across the planet, University of Georgia researchers are shedding light on the differing values of populations in Northeastern Brazil to inform future water management decisions.Continue reading
UGA Researcher Dr. Stacey Lance Searches for Gopher Frogs
In a partnership with The Longleaf Alliance, a group dedicated to ensuring a sustainable future for the longleaf pine ecosystem in the Southeastern United States, River Basin Center and Savannah River Ecology Lab researcher Dr. Stacey Lance is working to identify suitable habitat for Carolina gopher frogs, a species identified as endangered in the Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama, and to survey existing populations on private lands.Continue reading
Author: Victoria Swyers
Man-made reservoirs throughout the Southeast have become infested with the invasive aquatic plant, hydrilla, (Hydrilla verticillata), which hosts a new species of toxic cyanobacteria. Waterfowl and birds of prey, most notably the American coot (Fulica americana), and bald eagle, (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), can consume the neurotoxin and die—within this unsuitable toxic habitat.Continue reading
Athens-Clarke County and RBC Researchers take interdisciplinary approach to septicContinue reading
RBC researchers monitor how urban aquatic insect communities change over time
Long before Atlanta became the thriving metropolis it is today, streams and rivers rich with biodiversity interwove ancient forests. Similar streams exist today, threaded between the concrete and asphalt of the city.Continue reading