Comparison of the Prey Base for Eastern Hellbenders between Three Streams

Veronica Yager Purdue University West Layfayette
Faculty Sponsor(s): Rod Williams Purdue University West Layfayette
The Eastern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) is a giant, aquatic salamander endemic to the Eastern United States. The species has suffered severe population declines over the past several decades. The Eastern Hellbender is listed as state-endangered in Indiana and is restricted to a single river system. The elimination of Eastern Hellbenders from a river system may cause a trophic cascade by altering the abundance of species such as crayfish and macroinvertebrates. My research compares crayfish and macroinvertebrate abundance in three different rivers with varying Hellbender populations. The Blue River, IN contains a declining Hellbender population, Indian Creek, IN has no known remaining Hellbenders, and Toccoa River, GA contains a healthy Hellbender population. I collected macroinvertebrates using a surber sampler and captured crayfish inside a quadrant at four sites selected within the three rivers between July-October 2016. Our results indicate notable differences in crayfish abundance between the three rivers. The results from this project will help to further describe the important role that Eastern Hellbenders occupy in stream systems.
Oral Presentation

When & Where

10:30 AM
Gallahue Hall 101