Common Name: COOSA CRAYFISH
Scientific Name: Cambarus (Puncticambarus) coosae Hobbs
Rarity Ranks: G5/S4
State Legal Status: None
Federal Legal Status: None
Description: The overall base colors of the Coosa Crayfish consist of tans, browns, and olives. The carapace is typically tan with darker brown bands anterior to and posterior to the areola, creating a saddled appearance. The cervical spines, all tubercles, and margins of the rostrum are bright red or reddish orange and the rear edge of each abdominal segment is deep red or burgundy. The areola is wide and there is a single strong cervical spine. The rostrum is fairly long and nearly parallel-sided, with marginal spines or tubercles. This species reaches a maximum total body length of about 80 mm (3.1 in).
Similar Species: The only other species that occurs with the Coosa Crayfish that possesses a single sharp cervical spine is the Coosa River Spiny Crayfish, Orconectes spinosus. However, the cervical spine of O. spinosus is not red and there are obvious black spots on the claw of this species where the movable finger connects; this area on the Coosa Crayfish is bright red.
Habitat: The Coosa Crayfish is a stream dweller and can be found in small spring runs less than 1 m wide to the mainstem of medium sized rivers like the Conasauga. This species is typically found beneath rocks.
Diet: No studies of the Coosa 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 Coosa Crayfish in reproductive condition have been collected in all months except December, January, and February, although first form males are more common in the fall and spring. The lack of breeding males in the winter months is likely an artifact of the small number of collections made during that period. Ten females carrying eggs were found in April and one in July. Number of eggs per female ranged from 74 to 167. The smallest breeding male known is about 50 mm (2.0 in) and the smallest female carrying eggs is about 50 mm (2 in) in length (Hobbs 1981).
Survey Recommendations: Since this species is usually found in flowing 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 Coosa Crayfish is endemic to the Coosa River basin in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. The majority of its range is in Georgia where it inhabits the Conasauga, Coosa, and Oostanaula river systems as well as the lower portions of the Coosawattee and Etowah river systems.
Threats: This species is apparently secure across its range.
Conservation and Management Recommendations: Conserving populations of the Coosa 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 where they will be fishing. Unused bait of any kind should not be released back into Georgia waters.
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: August 2012