Big Sandy Crayfish (Cambarus callainus) Habitat Affinity in Proximity to Bridges and Assessed via Radio Telemetry

Zachary W Dillard, Zachary J Loughman


Cambarus callainus (Big Sandy Crayfish) is a federally threatened species endemic to the coalfields of Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia.  Existing datasets involving this species reflect broad/seasonal natural history trends, but conservation managers are still in need of a fine-scale, high resolution understanding of daily microhabitat utilization and movement patterns.  The WVDOT has identified multiple locations within C. callainus range where in-stream bridge infrastructure requires complete reconstruction in a timely manner.  Construction projects occurring within waterways supporting C. callainus could represent a threat to the crayfish community, but the extent of such effects is currently unknown.  To identify potential disruptions to C. callainus populations we aim to determine the extent of site fidelity, peak and minimum activity periods, and preferred microhabitat utilization assessed by radiotracking C. callainus during and after active construction.  Collected data will be interpreted to determine further conservation and management practices necessary for protection of C. callainus.  Findings will allow organizations such as the WVDOT to move forward with necessary infrastructure projects while mitigating further anthropogenic impact to this vulnerable species.


Freshwater; crayfish; ecology; conservation; radio telemetry; Threatened and Endangered

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