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SFS Annual Meeting

2021 Detailed Schedule

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Kurt Anderson (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of California, Riverside,;

Eric Sokol (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Battelle, National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON),;

Ryan Conway (Primary Presenter/Author)
University of California, Riverside,;

Abstract: Pairing functional traits of species to environmental conditions have been proposed as a more mechanistic alternative to describing how species assemble in communities, however, the focus on single trait-environment relationships often leads to confounding interactions with the covarying traits of species. Using a large dataset of aquatic macroinvertebrate abundances across 5 ecoregions in California, we test whether groupings of species by single-traits, shared phylogenetic order, or shared life history strategies are best able to predict taxa abundances across environmentally dissimilar ecoregions. We used hierarchical clustering to assign “trait profile groups” to taxa and used local and catchment-scale environmental data to build boosted regression tree models fitting i) single-trait, ii) taxonomic order and iii) trait profile groupings responses to variation within each of the 5 ecoregions. These models were then used to predict abundances of each taxa group in the other 4 ecoregions. Overall, models formed for taxonomic order had relatively better predictive power in environmentally similar regions, while this switched in dissimilar regions where trait profile groups had greater predictive power. This relationship should be explored further using existing trait databases and across taxonomic groups to improve generalizable species-environment relationships.

Consequences of hydrological alteration for beta diversity of fish assemblages at multiple spatial scales [Oral Presentation]

Robert Rolls (Primary Presenter/Author)
University Of New England,;

Abstract: Effects of dam operation and extraction of water from rivers on spatial variation in hydrological regimes, and consequences for freshwater biodiversity, are widely predicted but seldom assessed empirically. Evidence of linkages between hydrology and beta diversity contributes to water-management decisions to support landscape-scale biodiversity and avoid inadvertently contributing to further biodiversity decline. Here, we tested (i) effects of water resource development on spatial variation in hydrology and (ii) how patterns of beta diversity of lowland fish assemblages corresponded to spatial hydrological variation at two spatial scales. Spatial variation in hydrology among rivers was higher under the modified scenario than under the low-development scenario yet change in the magnitude of within-river (longitudinal) variation was inconsistent between rivers. Beta diversity among rivers was significantly associated with spatial variation in hydrology only in certain circumstances (native species assemblages in specific years). Within-river beta diversity varied among rivers yet was unrelated to longitudinal variation in modified hydrological regimes. These findings fail to support predictions adopted in ecohydrological science that water resource development homogenises hydrological regimes, in turn causing biotic homogenisation in lowland rivers.


Stephen C. Cook (Primary Presenter/Author)
University of Oklahoma,;

Megan C. Malish (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of Oklahoma,;

Mariana Rocha (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of Oulu,;

Albert Ruhi (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California Berkeley,;

Darin Kopp (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of Oklahoma,;

Michael Bogan (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
School of Natural Resources and the Environment, The University of Arizona,;

Meryl C. Mims (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Virginia Tech,;

Thomas Neeson (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of Oklahoma,;

Katie Costigan (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of Louisiana Lafayette,;

Shang Gao (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of Oklahoma,;

Yang Hong (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of Oklahoma,;

Zacchaeus Compson (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of North Texas,;

Samuel Silknetter (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Virginia Tech,;

Daniel Allen (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of Oklahoma,;

Abstract: While freshwater ecologists have long recognized the dynamic nature of stream communities, large scale controls on temporal changes in community composition (i.e. temporal &beta-diversity) are still poorly understood. We examined continent-wide drivers of temporal &beta-diversity in benthic macroinvertebrate, algal, and fish assemblages at 23 wadeable streams in the United States across the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). We partitioned temporal &beta-diversity into components that measured balanced turnover in species abundances (&betaBAL) and variation due to nested changes in abundances (&betaGRA). Intra-annual temporal &beta-diversity quantifies seasonally driven changes in assemblage composition and was similar in magnitude to interannual temporal beta-diversity for all assemblages. Total temporal &beta-diversity was highest in stream algae and macroinvertebrates, and was dominated by the &betaBAL component. Temporal &beta-diversity was lower in fish assemblages and was driven by &betaGRA. Stream elevation was consistently the best predictor of both temporal-&betaBAL and -&betaGRA , with temporal-&betaBAL decreasing and temporal-&betaGRA increasing with elevation spanning 77 to 3021 m asl. Our results indicate that baseline levels of temporal &beta-diversity differ among stream assemblages, and that increases in richness commonly observed at high elevations may be driven by high degrees of temporal &beta-diversity.


Evan Newman (Primary Presenter/Author)
University of Illinois,;

R. Edward DeWalt (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Illinois,;

Scott Grubbs (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Western Kentucky University,;

Abstract: Plecoptera are among the most sensitive of aquatic taxa and are commonly used in biomonitoring. Many species across the US have seen drastic range reductions due to habitat loss and pollution. The pre-settlement ranges of some of these species are poorly known and historical records are often the only way to determine original ranges. We set out to determine how many species of Plecoptera are native to Indiana and which landscape variables were most important to species richness of Plecoptera in the state of Indiana. To do this, we used over 6000 records of Plecoptera from more than 2000 unique collection events. We assembled a list of landscape variables from USGS and NRCS raster datasets which included aspects of stream hydrology, land use, climate, geology, and topography. This study yielded a list of 92 species native to Indiana. A matrix of species by HUC8 watershed was generated to test the impacts of landscape variables on species richness.


Rebecca Best (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Northern Arizona University,;

Kaitlin Haase (Primary Presenter/Author)
Northern Arizona University,;

Abstract: Aquatic habitats in the arid southwest will likely experience more frequent drying events due to climate change. In northern Arizona, natural aquatic systems are infrequent and isolated, whereas anthropogenic stock ponds are abundant across the landscape. Both of these habitats vary in hydroperiod, where some dry annually (ephemeral), some remain consistently perennial (permanent), and some dry only in extreme drought years. To evaluate the relative value of these aquatic habitats as refugia for biodiversity, we sampled aquatic macroinvertebrates in natural lentic systems and anthropogenic ponds across three seasons in 2019. We found significant seasonal effects on total abundance, richness, and diversity regardless of habitat type. Natural versus anthropogenic origin had no significant effect on diversity indices. However, hydroperiod had substantial effects on diversity and community composition. In the post-monsoon recovery from summer drying, ponds that were predictably either permanent or ephemeral had higher diversity than ponds that were normally permanent but had experienced extreme drying events in the previous year. Our results suggest that a variety of lentic systems can support aquatic invertebrate diversity, but that extreme events related to climate change can have large and lasting effects.


Luca Carraro (Primary Presenter/Author)
University of Zurich, Switzerland,;

Elvira Mächler (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology,;

Remo Wüthrich (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology,;

Florian Altermatt (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Eawag, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology,;

Abstract: The current alarming declines of global biodiversity, and freshwater biodiversity in particular, call for efficient biomonitoring at fine spatiotemporal scales, such that conservation measures be grounded upon accurate biodiversity data. Here, we show that combining environmental DNA (eDNA) extracted from stream water samples with eDITH, a model for eDNA transport and decay in rivers based on hydrological first principles, allows upscaling biodiversity estimates at an unprecedented spatial resolution. The eDITH model decouples the diverse upstream contributions to the eDNA data, enabling the reconstruction of patterns of spatial distributions of taxa. We tested eDITH on eDNA data for aquatic insects belonging to orders Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera collected across a 740-km2 Swiss prealpine basin, obtaining a space-filling biodiversity prediction at a grain size resolution of 1-km long stream sections. The model’s accuracy in matching direct observations of aquatic insects’ local occurrence ranged between 57–100%. Our results demonstrate how eDNA can be used for large-scale and high-resolution biodiversity assessments in rivers with minimal prior knowledge of the system. Our approach allows identification of biodiversity hotspots that could be otherwise overlooked, enabling implementation of focused conservation strategies.

Patterns in alpha, beta, and gamma diversity in lotic fish and macroinvertebrates across the conterminous U.S. [Oral Presentation]

Richard Mitchell (Primary Presenter/Author)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,;

Robert Hughes (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Amnis Opes Institute,;

Alan Herlihy (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Oregon State University,;

David Peck (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
US EPA, Pacific Ecological Systems Division, Corvallis, OR,;

Randy Comeleo (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
US Environmental Protection Agency,;

Abstract: Understanding taxonomic richness patterns across varying geographic extents offers useful biological conservation insights because richness is driven by multiple proximal and distal factors. Most research on aquatic ecosystem richness patterns has been limited to sites (alpha richness) or small areas (watersheds; beta richness) and focused on one taxonomic group. We investigated macroinvertebrate and fish richness at regional and continental extents based on data collected at 3,550 sites during USEPA’s National Rivers and Streams Assessments (NRSA). To assess how geographic area influenced beta richness, we used various-grain hydrologic units and ecoregions. At the ecoregion extent (Omernik Level III), fish beta richness ranged from 8-235 species (median=71), whereas macroinvertebrate beta richness ranged from 105-366 genera (median=201). Richness was strongly related to sampling effort (number of sites sampled), thus, richness was converted to residual richness and related to ecoregion landscape data using regression and random forest analyses. Ecoregion %agricultural and %developed were the most important variables for fish residual richness. Whereas ecoregion %forest was the most important variable for macroinvertebrate residual richness. These findings suggest that biodiversity conservation approaches for one assemblage are unlikely to suffice for the other.


Abigail L. Benson (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)

Jennifer A. Smith (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of Texas San Antonio,;

Meryl C. Mims (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Virginia Tech,;

Samuel Silknetter (Primary Presenter/Author)
Virginia Tech,;

Abstract: Assessing sensitivity of freshwater species to climate change is essential to prioritizing conservation efforts. Sensitivity can be evaluated across multiple species by comparing measurable attributes such as traits, range size, and climate niche breadth; however, the degree to which spatial scale influences outcomes of such assessments is unclear. The effects of spatial extent may cause scale dependencies that decouple the outcomes of analyses performed at regional and national scales. To address this knowledge gap, we assessed intrinsic climate sensitivity for 144 native freshwater fishes of the United States using publicly available occurrence data from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). Results indicate that for regional species pools, mean sensitivity values did not differ between assessments at national and regional scales. However, regional assessments revealed that the intrinsic sensitivity of individual species often varied significantly between geographic regions in which they occur. This suggests that species’ intrinsic sensitivity is strongly influenced by the scale or extent of the assessment. As conservation practitioners consider regional management actions for at-risk species, it is vital to ensure that the vulnerability assessments informing those decisions have been conducted at the appropriate scale.


Amanda Curtis (Primary Presenter/Author)
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign,;

James C. Godwin (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
The Alabama Natural Heritage Program,; ?;

Lesley de Souza (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Field Museum of Natural History,;

Kurt Ash (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of Tennessee,;

Eric Larson (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of Illinois,;

Abstract: Extinction debt, or the time lag in the extinction of species after habitat loss or modification, is a well-recognized challenge for conservation. Yet most extinction debt research has relied on theoretical modeling rather than empirical field observations. Eastern hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) populations have been declining across their range since the 1980s and previous research suggested that these populations represent unpaid extinction debts. Here we asked whether contemporary C. alleganiensis detections in Alabama better matched historical or current land use (e.g. extinction debt). We combined five years of environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling across the Tennessee River watershed in Alabama with catchment-level estimates of urbanization in 2001 (historical) and 2016 (current). We focused on urbanization because of rapid human population growth in northern Alabama over recent decades. We used occupancy modeling to estimate relative variable importance contrasting land use in 2001 against 2016. Occupancy of C. alleganiensis was best explained by benthic invertebrate metrics of stream condition and historical rather than current land use. This suggest that human population growth and ongoing urbanization in Alabama has likely committed current C. alleganiensis populations to future local extinctions as an unpaid extinction debt.

Assessing factors driving avian diversity in bottomland hardwood forest restoration sites [Poster Presentation]

Howard Whiteman (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Murray State University,;

Michael Flinn (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Murray State University,;

Andrea Darracq (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Murray State University,;

Clay Bliznick (Primary Presenter/Author)
Murray State University,;

Abstract: Approximately 70% of Bottomland hardwood forests (BHFs), a wetland type found in the southeastern and south central USA, have been lost in the past two centuries. To mitigate effects of BHF losses on biodiversity and ecosystem services, the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) has worked to regenerate BHFs by cooperating with private landowners to establish restoration easements. Our objective was to assess the influence of WRP restoration and fine-scale and landscape attributes of easements on avian diversity by comparing bird diversity between reference standard wetlands (n = 2), agricultural wetland, controls (n=2), and WRP easements (n = 9). Thus far, we have conducted point counts seasonally from summer 2019 to spring 2020. We calculated seasonal species richness and the effective number of common species for each site. Richness did not vary across sites. The effective number of common species was greater on reference sites compared to easement and control sites across all seasons, but did not differ between easement and control sites. In the future, we will consider other factors related to easements (e.g., age, hydrologic conditions, land cover) that may allow us to better understand easement effects on avian diversity.


Anna Cassady (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of California, Riverside,;

Helen Regan (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of California, Riverside,;

Kurt Anderson (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of California, Riverside,;

Leonardo Rodriguez (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of California, Riverside,;

Eeman Syed (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
University of California, Riverside,;

Gary Qin (Primary Presenter/Author)
University of California, Riverside,;

Abstract: Freshwater species are particularly vulnerable in Mediterranean climates, which have a long history of land-use change and hydrological modification. This study evaluates the threat levels of all federally and state endangered and threatened animal species in California, USA. The studied species include non-freshwater species, which serve as a point of comparison to investigate threat characteristics unique to freshwater systems. We used an established protocol to highlight the severity, spatial extent, and temporal scale of each species’ threats. We found that most federally and state endangered and threatened species have intermittent or obligate usage of freshwater ecosystems. In order of prominence, the most common threats are habitat loss, invasive species, climate change, and altered hydrology. Instances of organisms affected by altered hydrology despite being traditionally considered non-freshwater species highlight the congruence of freshwater biodiversity threat to overall biodiversity threat. Given the severity and extent of threats to freshwater systems, it is imperative to have a detailed understanding of the nature of threats, where those threats occur, and which taxonomic groups are affected to inform effective biodiversity conservation management.

Larval morphological variation in the giant salmonfly Pteronarcys californica [Poster Presentation]

Michael Peterson (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
California Department of Insurance,;

Adersin Vartanyan (Primary Presenter/Author)
CSU Stanislaus,;

Taylor Bannemer (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
CSU Stanislaus,;

Evelyn Vega Gonzalez (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
CSU Stanislaus,;

Jasmin Dominguez Cervantes (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
CSU Stanislaus,;

Karima Jawad (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
CSU Stanislaus,;

Matthew Cover (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
California State University, Stanislaus,;

Abstract: While DNA-based analyses are increasingly being used to assess population genetic structure and infer biodiversity of aquatic invertebrates, the vast majority of bioassessment programs and biodiversity surveys still reply upon morphology-based identifications. Here we report the results of an investigation into morphological variation that supports previous findings of distinct clades with low gene flow from a study of population genetic structure of the giant salmonfly (Pteronarcys californica), a large-bodied stonefly distributed throughout western North America. Morphometric analysis of the larval pronotum indicates significant differences between populations south of San Francisco Bay in Central California and all other sampled populations from the western U.S., especially with regards to the size and shape of the pronotal projections. This morphological variation supports the findings of previous research on population genetic structure in P. californica, which similarly identified a deep phylogenetic split north and south of the SF Bay area. Taken together, the morphological and genetic data suggest that the isolated populations in habitats south of San Francisco Bay, which face vulnerability related to drought, fire, and climate change, should represent an important conservation concern for aquatic biodiversity.


Pedro López Del Castillo (Primary Presenter/Author)
Turquino National Park,;

Germán López Iborra (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Alicante University,;

Liliana María Gómez Luna (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Universidad de Oriente,;

Abstract: Analyzing the effect of altitude, river order and seasonality the authors have tried to establish those variables which defined micro-habitat use and abundance pattern of mayflies’ species in two rivers of the eastern region of Cuba: Nagua and Yara. This study was carried out during dry and rainy seasons. Lotic habitats (riffles) were sampled using two methods: direct picking-up out of stones, and D-net. Meanwhile, pool zones were sampled through four methods. In each predefined micro-habitat: direct picking-up out of stones, D-net in sand, Leave-packed, and Bank vegetation. To explore the abundance of the mayflies´ species by micro-habitats, a clustering k-means method was used. This analysis allows to cluster the samples in five groups according to the abundance by micro-habitats, altitude and stream order. There were found 12 331 individuals belonging to four families, 12 genus and 20 species. The results showed that the abundance of the mayflies have a strong influence by the microhabitats, seasonality and among rivers. Riffles was the microhabitats with more abundance of mayflies. This study provides important ecological information related with abundance patterns measured in the microhabitats, useful to monitoring programs.


Alexander Orfinger (Primary Presenter/Author)
Florida A&M University / University of Florida,;

Andrew Rasmussen (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Florida A&M University,;

Raymond Hix (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Florida A&M University,;

Abstract: Trichoptera, or caddisfly, larvae are important for water quality monitoring, fly fishing, and ecological and evolutionary research. Still, fewer than half of Nearctic Trichoptera larvae are associated and described, precluding identification beyond genus level. For the genus Polycentropus sensu stricto (Trichoptera: Polycentropodidae), this taxonomic impediment is even greater with larvae of only one of 29 species known and in need of redescription. DNA barcoding methods using a 658 bp fragment of Cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) allow for association of insect life stages. Using mitochondrial DNA (n=13 species) and geographic-based (n= 1 species) larval-adult association of museum specimens and freshly collected material, the identities of larvae of 14 of the 29 Nearctic species are now known. Morphological discrimination between larvae is described and illustrated. Characters found to be informative for species-level larval identification include muscle scar patterning, head color and pigment banding, anal claw curvature, and ratios of foreleg segmentation. Ongoing directions are discussed including additional association and sampling efforts and production of discriminatory matrices for the Nearctic fauna. Finally, the efficacy of the current keys to larval Nearctic polycentropodids is discussed in light of new findings.

Redundant or complementary? Identifying patterns of multifaceted frog and toad biodiversity in the eastern United States [Poster Presentation]

Chloe Moore (Primary Presenter/Author)
Virginia Tech,;

Tess Alexander (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Virginia Tech,;

Meryl C. Mims (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Virginia Tech,;

Abstract: Biodiversity at its core describes variation among organisms. It is often quantified as species richness, with a high number of co-occurring species designating important ‘hotspots’. However, variation among organisms is not limited to species diversity. Other facets of biodiversity, including life history and phylogenetic diversity, may occur parallel to richness or may be independently distributed spatially. Considering multiple facets may be vital to understand the distribution of biodiversity’s functional and adaptive components, particularly if those facets do not co-occur with richness. We characterized spatial patterns and environmental drivers of species, phylogenetic, and life history diversity of anurans (frogs and toads) in the eastern United States. We measured richness by building species distribution models (SDMs) to estimate the range of 27 anurans of the eastern US using publicly available occurrence and environmental data. We used phylogenetic data and a recently published anuran trait dataset to characterize phylogenetic and life history diversity. Finally, we compared patterns and drivers among facets to quantify areas of redundancy and complementarity. Measuring biodiversity as a multifaceted concept improves our understanding of why anurans occur where they do and can help inform more comprehensive and multidimensional conservation.


Gordon Rogers (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
Flint Riverkeeper,;

Stephen Golladay (Co-Presenter/Co-Author)
The Jones Center at Ichauway,;

Jamie Rogers (Primary Presenter/Author)
The Jones Center at Ichauway,;

Abstract: The Flint River of Georgia (USA) is unique among southeastern rivers for its hydrological, geological, biological, and cultural features. Of note is its species richness, diverse habitats, and species endemism. Our aim is to comprehensively quantify and describe species richness of this river and deliver that information to stakeholders in a meaningful manner. A priority is to engage the public with the river’s unique habitats and inhabitants in a way that encourages mutual learning, i.e., understanding of, interaction with, and stewardship of the river. A catalog of endemic species was created along with brief reports summarizing natural history traits and significance to the river and human culture. Additionally, we provide a list of iconic habitats throughout the Flint, highlighting the influence of geographical and geological diversity. The project is organized according to the USGS HUC-8 classification and lends itself to map-based information retrieval. The gathered information will be compiled into an easily accessed, navigated, and updated web-based format. We view this as a virtual portal to the Flint River, providing stakeholders, educators, managers, and policy makers with timely information about the river and identifying key information needs.