Common Name: CHATTOOGA RIVER CRAYFISH
Scientific Name: Cambarus (Puncticambarus) scotti Hobbs
Rarity Ranks: G3/S2
State Legal Status: Threatened
Federal Legal Status: None
Description: The overall color of the Chattooga River Crayfish is tannish to brown, although the margins of the rostrum and various tubercles are bright reddish. The claws are a dull greenish and there are two rows of tubercles on the mesial margin of the palm. The areola is wide and nearly parallel sided; there one sharp cervical spine on each side of the carapace. The rostrum is fairly long and tapers gradually to a point. This species reaches a maximum total body length of about 90 mm (3.5 in).
Similar Species: This species has been collected with the Variable Crayfish (Cambarus latimanus) and the Ambiguous Crayfish (Cambarus striatus). Both of these species have a much narrower areola than the Chattooga River Crayfish and neither have sharp cervical spines (occasional cervical spines present on juvenile Variable Crayfish).
Habitat: The Chattooga River Crayfish is usually collected from beneath rocks or debris in flowing areas with moderate to swift current. It is known from the Chattooga River and smaller tributary streams.
Diet: No studies of the Chattooga River Crayfish are known. Crayfishes are considered opportunistic omnivores and likely feed on live and decaying vegetation, aquatic insect larvae, small fishes, and dead animal matter.
Life History: Male Chattooga River Crayfish in reproductive condition have been collected in March-May and September-October and females carrying eggs were found in April. The number of eggs for four individuals ranged from 110-310, with egg diameters ranging from 2.1-2.3 mm. The smallest breeding male is about 49 mm (1.9 in) and the smallest female with eggs is about 62 mm (2.4 in) in length (Hobbs 1981).
Survey Recommendations: Since this species is usually found in swift water, it is most easily collected by holding a net perpendicular to the current downstream of a large rock, then lifting the rock and disturbing the substrate beneath it. If a crayfish is hiding underneath the rock, it will likely move into the net. Shocking downstream into a seine net with a backpack electroshocker is also effective.
Range: The Chattooga River Crayfish is known from about 20 locations in the Chattooga River system in northwestern Georgia and northeastern Alabama. In Georgia it has been collected at about 14 sites in Walker and Chattooga counties within the Ridge and Valley physiographic province (Hobbs 1981; 1989).
Threats: The small range of this species and poor land use practices within that range are potential threats to the Chattooga River Crayfish. Heavy sedimentation resulting from poor development and land management practices may cover substrates and other daytime hiding places on which crayfishes rely to avoid predation. The introduction of non-native crayfishes is a threat to all native crayfishes.
Conservation and Management Recommendations: Conserving populations of the Chattooga River Crayfish will require general watershed level protection measures, including the protection of riparian zones, control of sediment and nutrient runoff from farms and construction sites, and limiting the amount of impervious cover (e.g., pavement) within occupied watersheds. Non-native crayfishes should never be used for bait. Instead, anglers should use crayfishes collected from the river system they will be fishing in and should never release unused bait crayfish back into Georgia waters.
Hobbs, H. H., Jr. 1981. The crayfishes of Georgia. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 318:1-549.
Hobbs, H. H., Jr. 1989. An illustrated checklist of the American crayfishes (Decapoda: Astacidae, Cambaridae, and Parastacidae). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 480:1-236.
Taylor, C. A., G. A. Schuster, J. E. Cooper, R. J. DiStefano, A. G. Eversole, P. Hamr, H. H. Hobbs III, H. W. Robison, C. E. Skelton, and R. F. Thoma. 2007. A reassessment of the conservation status of crayfishes of the United States and Canada after 10+ years of increased awareness. Fisheries 32(8):72-389.
Date Compiled or Updated: September 2012