Common Name: CONASAUGA BLUE BURROWER
Scientific Name: Cambarus (Depressicambarus) cymatilis Hobbs
Rarity Ranks: G1/S1
State Legal Status: Endangered
Federal Legal Status: None
Description: The overall color of the Conasauga Blue Burrower is deep blue and the tips of the claws are orange. There are two rows of tubercles along the mesial margin of the palm. The areola is obliterated and the abdomen appears narrower and shorter than the cephalothorax. This species reaches a maximum total body length of about 75 mm (3 in).
Similar Species: This is the only all blue crayfish that occurs within its range.
Habitat: Complex burrows adjacent to streams or in low areas where the water table is near the surface of the ground.
Diet: No studies of the Conasauga Blue Burrower are known and the diet of burrowing crayfishes in general is poorly understood. Crayfishes are considered opportunistic omnivores and likely feed on a variety of items, both plant and animal, living or dead. Burrowing crayfishes may forage around the mouths of their burrows, eat organisms that crawl or fall into the burrow, or eat worms that inadvertently tunnel through a burrow wall.
Life History: Male Conasauga Blue Burrowers in reproductive condition have been collected in April and a single female with seven eggs (1.9-2.0 mm diameter) was collected the same month (Hobbs 1981).
Survey Recommendations: Burrowing crayfishes may be collected by direct excavation of their burrows, by trapping, and during night surveys. Excavating burrows is time consuming and can be very difficult. It also results in destruction of the animals’ burrow. Traps made with PVC pipes or mist nets can be effective. Burrowing crayfishes are sometimes captured around the openings of their burrows on damp nights. Active burrows are found from about mid-March to mid-November if the water table is within about two feet of the surface of the ground.
Range: The Conasauga Blue Burrower is known from the Conasauga and Hiwassee river systems in the Ridge and Valley physiographic province in northwestern Georgia and southeastern Tennessee. In Georgia, it is has been collected from only about five locations, most around Chatsworth in Murray County (Hobbs 1981).
Threats: Small range size makes this species vulnerable to extirpation from the state. About one-half of the known populations of this species occur within the Chatsworth city limits. One location is in a neighborhood and the other was along a street that has now been paved over.
Conservation and Management Recommendations: If possible, areas with burrows should be protected from land disturbing activities. Additional surveys and life history studies are needed to better define the range of the Conasauga Blue Burrower and help predict its response to environmental change. Environmental education programs should include information about burrowing crayfishes and encourage protection of burrows.
Hobbs, H. H., Jr. 1981. The crayfishes of Georgia. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 318:1-549.
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):372-389.
Date Compiled or Updated: September 2012