Historical and Current Distribution of Western Pennsylvania’s Appalachian Primary Burrowing Crayfishes: a Century of Change or Stasis?

Katie Scott, Zachary Wade Dillard, Nicole Marie Sadecky, David Lieb, Zachary James Loughman


Astacological efforts in Pennsylvania have increased over the past decade. In particular, the distribution and conservation standing of WPA burrowing crayfish represents the greatest void in knowledge regarding the states crayfish fauna. To rectify this situation, burrowing crayfish surveys were initiated across WPA in 2014/2015 using Ortmann’s (1906) historical records as a guide. Of the 61 historic sites that were resampled, 19.6% maintained burrowing crayfish populations. Of the 57 new sites that were sampled, 71.9% supported burrowing crayfish populations. Overall burrowing crayfish were detected at 44.9% of the 118 sites sampled.  Ortmann documented Cambarus dubius, Cambarus monongalensis, and Cambarus thomai in WPA. All three species were found during our surveys, with each species allied to a physiographic region, and found in the general area that Ortmann discovered them in a century prior. Urbanization had a negative effect on burrowing crayfish’s over the past century, and greenspaces proved to be important islands of habitation in the presence of urbanization. Overall our survey results indicate that all three species are currently stable in Pennsylvania.


Ecology; Freshwater Ecosystems; Freshwater Invertebrates; Life History; Conservation; Crayfish; Astacology

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