Common Name: PIEDMONT BLUE BURROWER
Scientific Name: Cambarus (Depressicambarus) harti Hobbs
Rarity Ranks: G1/S1
State Legal Status: Endangered
Federal Legal Status: None
Description: As its name implies, the Piedmont Blue Burrower is deep blue in color, particularly on the claws. The areola is obliterated and the abdomen appears much narrower than the cephalothorax. The claws of this species may be robust and there are two rows of tubercles along the mesial margin of the palm. This species reaches a maximum total body length of about 66 mm (2.6 in).
Similar Species: None
Habitat: Complex burrows adjacent to streams and seepage areas, or in low areas where the water table is near the surface of the ground.
Diet: No studies of the Piedmont 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: Males in reproductive condition have been found in April, May, and November. Females carrying eggs have not been found. The smallest breeding male is about 48 mm (18.9) in length (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-May to mid-November if the water table is within about two feet of the surface of the ground.
Range: The Piedmont Blue Burrower is definitively known from two localities in Meriwether County, Georgia; one in the Flint River system and one in the Chattahoochee River system. Both of these locations are in the Piedmont physiographic province (Hobbs 1981). The author found bluish crayfish specimens that may represent the Piedmont blue burrower at six additional locations in Meriwether County, but none were males and thus the identifications are considered tentative. A recent collection of blue burrowing crayfishes from the White Oak Creek system (Flint tributary) may also represent the Piedmont Blue Burrower.
Threats: Small range size makes this species vulnerable to extinction. The small size of individual populations makes them vulnerable to land disturbing activities. Any expansion of the Warm Springs National Fish Hatchery or the Warm Springs water works would threaten this species.
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 Piedmont 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: August 2012