Preliminary Investigation of the Critically Imperiled Caney Mountain Cave Crayfish Orconectes stygocaneyi Hobbs III, 2001 (Decapoda: Cambaridae) in Missouri, USA


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The Caney Mountain cave crayfish (Orconectes stygocaneyi) is one of North America's rarest crayfish, endemic to one cave in southern Missouri, USA. The species is listed as "critically imperiled" by Missouri, and "threatened" by the American Fisheries Society. Previously, only 15 crayfish have been observed in Mud Cave, and only two have been collected (for original species description). We aimed to collect the first natural history data on the species and search adjacent caves and springs for additional populations. Twelve visual searches and supplemental trapping over four years, in all seasons, yielded 69 O. stygocaneyi (including 11 young of year) observations and capture of 22 crayfish, including one ovigerous female. Visual searches of nearby caves and springs yielded no O. stygocaneyi records. However, multiple surveys of those caves and springs, using environmental DNA detected the species in one additional cave adjacent to Mud Cave, but only during spring high flow events when the caves may be ephemerally connected. Orconectes stygocaneyi's distribution is among the most restricted of any North American crayfish, and further evaluation of its conservation status designations might be warranted. Long-term conservation of O. stygocaneyi would benefit from management practices promoting sustained, unimpacted surface runoff within Mud Cave's recharge area. Copyright (C) 2020 by The Author(s). Published by the International Association of Astacology.
cave crayfish,natural history,Orconectes stygocaneyi,Caney Mountain cave crayfish
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