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The ringed crayfish is moving into areas along the south branch of the White River, and is pushing out the rare coldwater crayfish.

The ringed crayfish is moving into areas along the south branch of the White River, and is pushing out the rare coldwater crayfish.

Rare crayfish being displaced by ringed crayfish

The coldwater crayfish is a rare species found only in parts of the Arkansas and Missouri Ozarks. It inhabits big, spring-fed streams – namely the Eleven Point, Strawberry, Spring and South Fork Spring rivers. Several years ago, ringed crayfish from the North Fork White River basin, turned up in the South Fork.

University of Arkansas professor Dan Magoulick and his students have been studying this invasion where the coldwater crayfish has been displaced from much of the South Fork. The current theory is that ringed crayfish are more tolerant of low, summer water conditions, allowing them to out-compete the coldwater crayfish.

The coldwater crayish has a few color variations, depending on the stream system it inhabits.

The coldwater crayish has a few color variations, depending on the stream system it inhabits.

This ringed crayfish invasion is an example of a short-range introduction. A study published by the Missouri Department of Conservation found that short-range introductions of crayfish are more common than previously thought. Since several of Arkansas’s nearly 60 crayfish species are found in only a small portion of the state, this highlights the need to avoid moving crayfish around from one place to another.

Nongame aquatics biologist and former University of Arkansas student Matthew Nolen dislodge rocks in a stream along the Norht Fork River to find the rare coldwater crayfish.

Nongame aquatics biologist and former University of Arkansas student Matthew Nolen dislodge rocks in a stream along the North Fork River to find the rare coldwater crayfish.

The story of the coldwater crayfish is not all bad. Recent surveys by the University of Arkansas, Missouri Department of Conservation and Arkansas Game and Fish Commission have sought to better understand where coldwater crayfish are found. While they are mostly gone from the South Fork, coldwater crayfish populations are in fairly good shape in the Eleven Point and Spring rivers. A few also were found in sections of the Strawberry River.

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Click the image for a video on the AGFC's efforts to restore the endangered Ozark Hellbender in Arkansas.

Click the image for a video on the AGFC’s efforts to restore the endangered Ozark Hellbender in Arkansas.

 

It won’t win any beauty contests, but the endangered Ozark Hellbender is a critical component of Arkansas’s free-flowing streams. Arkansas Game and Fish Commisison biologists are working throughout the year in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other partners to protect this Arkansas original.

Click here for the video

 

 

 

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