Predation from aquatic and terrestrial predators are important factors structuring the size and depth distribution of aquatic prey. We conducted mesocosm and tethering experiments on Little Mulberry Creek in northwest Arkansas during low flows to examine the effects of predators on fish and crayfish survival in intermittent streams. Using shallow artificial pools (10 cm deep) and predator exclusions, we tested the hypothesis that large-bodied fish are at greater risk from terrestrial predators in shallow habitats compared to small-bodied individuals. Twenty-four circular pools (12 open top, 12 closed top) were stocked with two size classes of Campostoma anomalum (Central Stoneroller) and deployed systematically in a single stream pool. In addition, we used a crayfish tethering experiment to test the hypothesis that the survival of small and large crayfish is greater in shallow and deep habitats, respectively. We tethered two size classes of Orconectes meeki meeki (Meek's Crayfish) along shallow and deep transects in two adjacent stream pools and measured survival for 15 days. During both experiments, we monitored the presence or absence of predators by visual observation and from scat surveys. We demonstrated a negative effect of terrestrial predators on Central Stoneroller survival in the artificial pools, and larger individuals were more susceptible to predation. In contrast, small crayfish experienced low survival at all depths and large crayfish were preyed upon much less intensively during the tethering study, particularly in the pool with larger substrate. More studies are needed to understand how stream drying and environmental heterogeneity influence the complex interactions between predator and prey populations in intermittent streams.
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Vol. 12 • No. 1