Common Name: LITTLE TENNESSEE CRAYFISH
Scientific Name: Cambarus (Puncticambarus) georgiae Hobbs
Rarity Ranks: G2/S1
State Legal Status: Endangered
Federal Legal Status: None
Description: The background color of the Little Tennessee Crayfish is greenish-gray and the animal appears somewhat mottled. The abdomen has paired slanted black marks down each side of center. The rostrum is fairly long, narrow, and pointed with marginal spines. The areola is wide and nearly parallel-sided and cervical spines are present. This species reaches a maximum total body length of about 58 mm (2.3 in).
Similar Species: The Common Crayfish (Cambarus bartonii) occurs with the Little Tennessee Crayfish and at a glance looks very similar. However, the Common Crayfish has a short, wide rostrum and lacks cervical spines.
Habitat: The Little Tennessee Crayfish is a stream dwelling species and can be found in leaf litter or other debris in moderately flowing water as well as under rocks in quieter parts of the stream.
Diet: No studies of the Little Tennessee 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: Males in reproductive condition have been collected in March, April, and May and a female carrying eggs was found in April. The smallest breeding male known is about 52 mm (2.4 in) and the female with eggs is about 50 mm (1.9 in) in length (Hobbs 1981).
Survey Recommendations: Since this species is usually found in slow to moderately flowing water is it best to slowly remove rocks and coax the crayfish into a dipnet. Shocking downstream into a seine net with a backpack electroshocker can be effective. Minnow traps baited with dog- or catfood set overnight may be work as well.
Range: As its name implies, the Little Tennessee Crayfish is known only from the upper Little Tennessee River system in Macon County, North Carolina and Rabun County, Georgia (Hobbs 1989). The Georgia range lies within the Blue Ridge physiographic province. In Georgia, the species appears to be restricted to the Little Tennessee River and Betty’s Creek.
Threats: The small range of this species and the high development rates within that range are significant threats to the Little Tennessee 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 Little Tennessee 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 32:8:372-389.
Date Compiled or Updated: September 2012