Towards a cohesive strategy for the conservation of the United States’ diverse and highly endemic crayfish fauna

Abstract

Freshwater biodiversity of the United States has long been recognized for its high level of species richness. The US crayfish fauna is richer than that found in any other country or continent in the world. Crayfishes are critically important members of freshwater ecosystems and have long been utilized for human consumption. Combined, these factors argue for effective conservation. When compared to other diverse aquatic groups such as fishes or unionid mussels, conservation efforts for US crayfishes are lacking. We review here, knowledge gaps that prevent effective conservation and past and ongoing crayfish conservation and management activities. We conclude by proposing a strategy of actions to improve the conservation standing of this important group of organisms. These action items include improved outreach efforts, funding and research to fill numerous knowledge gaps, and the inclusion of crayfishes in broader scale aquatic conservation activities.

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Fig. 1

Image of Lacunicambarus ludovicianus courtesy of G. A. Schuster (a) and resin cast of crayfish chimney and burrow by J. A. Stoeckel (b)

Fig. 2

Image courtesy of G. A. Schuster

Fig. 3

Images courtesy of P. Kozák and F. Lozek

Fig. 4

Image of harvesting (a) courtesy of S. Irwin; image of sacks of live, harvested crayfish (b) courtesy of R. P. Romaire

Fig. 5

Images courtesy of G. J. A. Hansen (a), E. R. Larson (b, c), and J. Monroe (d)

Fig. 6

Images courtesy of D. J. Lawrence (a), N. Dorn (b)

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Acknowledgements

We thank Wendall Haag for providing a thorough and insightful review of this manuscript prior to submission. We also thank the countless number of collaborators and colleagues in the crayfish community that we have worked with. While too numerous to name, all have provided valuable advice and input over the years that have helped formulate the proposed strategy. We look forward to their review and updates of this strategy.

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Taylor, C.A., DiStefano, R.J., Larson, E.R. et al. Towards a cohesive strategy for the conservation of the United States’ diverse and highly endemic crayfish fauna. Hydrobiologia 846, 39–58 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-019-04066-3

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Keywords

  • Aquatic
  • Review
  • Knowledge gaps
  • Management actions
  • Action items