February 23, 2016
Contact: Mary Kay Manning
The Big Thicket National Preserve and the Big Thicket Association Science Café program series continues in March with a presentation from West Liberty University researcher Dr. Zachary Loughman on Friday, March 18th, at 6 pm at the Logon Café, Beaumont.
Dr. Loughman’s presentation will focus on his survey of crayfish in Big Thicket National Preserve. This survey will provide preserve managers and scientists with a baseline species inventory of crayfish, their habitats, and their conservation status, and give the general public the opportunity to become involved in science in the preserve.
This is the first comprehensive crayfish study focused on Big Thicket National Preserve. Prior surveys in the region of the Neches basin waterways documented 16 species of crayfish, an unusually high number for any watershed in the U.S. Given the diversity of wetland habitats in the preserve, it is likely that this study may find new species of crayfish here, as well as identify species at risk.
Crayfishes are important members of Texas’s riparian ecosystems, in both still and moving waters. They both consume and provide tremendous amounts of nutrients in their roles as predators, scavengers, and prey, and their burrows provide refuges for many aquatic and terrestrial animals.
Dr. Zachary Loughman is a professor of biology at West Liberty University in West Virginia. He has spent the last decade studying crayfishes across eastern and central North America, particularly in West Virginia and adjoining states. He completed a study documenting West Virginia’s crayfish, resulting in the WV Crayfish Atlas, and his work contributed to the development of West Virginia’s State Wildlife Action Plan. Dr. Loughman led field efforts in western Pennsylvania focused on determining the distribution of burrowing crayfishes, and has also worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to provide critical information on crayfish species of conservation concern.
As part of the All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) effort to identify and learn about all living organisms in the Big Thicket area, Dr.Loughman’s research provides valuable information on crayfish populations and ecology. Information gathered from these studies will help the National Park Service and other land management agencies make informed decisions about the lands and waters where we live, work, and recreate in, while helping to protect these areas for future generations. To learn more about this on-going All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventory, visit http://www.thicketofdiversity.org .
The Science Café is free and open to the public. This program will be held at Logon Café, 3805 Calder St, in Beaumont at 6 pm on Friday, March 18th. For more information, contact Park Ranger Mary Kay Manning at 409-951-6720.
For general information about Big Thicket National Preserve, visit www.nps.gov/bith or call the preserve visitor center at 409-951-6700. Visit us on Facebook www.facebook.com/BigThicketNPS, Twitter www.twitter.com/BigThicketNPS, and Instagram www.instagram.com/BigThicketNPS.