Cambarus robustus - Girard, 1852
Big Water Crayfish
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Cambarus robustus Girard, 1852 (TSN 97400)
French Common Names: écrevisse géante
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.963538
Element Code: ICMAL07B60
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Crustaceans - Crayfishes
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Crustacea Malacostraca Decapoda Cambaridae Cambarus
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Loughman, Z.J., D.A. Foltz, N.L. Garrison, and S. A. Welsh. 2013. Cambarus (P.) theepiensis, a new species of crayfish (Decapoda:Cambaridae) from the coalfields region of eastern Kentucky and southwestern West Virginia, USA. Zootaxa 3641(1):063-073.
Concept Reference Code: A13LOU01EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Cambarus robustus
Taxonomic Comments: Populations of Cambarus robustus and C. sciotensis in West Virginia and Kentucky are now recognized as a distinct species, C. theepiensis (Loughman et al. 2013).

Based on morphology, genetics and zoogeography, several additional populations of Cambarus robustus in Kentucky have also been described as distinct species: populations in the Middle Kentucky River and South Fork Kentucky River are now recognized as C. guenteri; populations in Middle Fork Kentucky River.  are now recognized as C. taylori; and populations in the North Fork Kentucky River, Red River, and upper reaches of the Licking River basin  are now recognized as C. hazardi (Loughman et al, 2017).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 26May2015
Global Status Last Changed: 19Feb1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Cambarus robustus is a species of lowest conservation concern. This species has a very large geographic range (hundreds of thousands of sq. km) and is currently described as stable. It is able to occupy a range of habitats including roadside ditches indicating a tolerance to pollution. There are no known major threats impacting the global population although it might be undergoing local declines due to habitat degradation and competition with introduced crayfish in some parts of its range.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (19Feb1996)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N4 (11May2017)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Connecticut (SNR), Illinois (SX), Indiana (S2), Kentucky (SU), Massachusetts (SNA), Michigan (S2?), New York (SNR), North Carolina (S3?), Ohio (S4), Pennsylvania (S4), South Carolina (SNR), Tennessee (S5), Virginia (S5?), West Virginia (S4)
Canada Ontario (S3), Quebec (SNA)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern
American Fisheries Society Status: Currently Stable (01Aug2007)

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: This widespread species occurs from southern Ontario east to New York, west to Illinois, and south to North Carolina and Virginia (Hobbs, 1989) and as far south as Tennessee.

Number of Occurrences: > 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Although probably not native east of the Hudson River drainage, records exist for New England including the Thames River drainge in Connecticut (1950s), the Connecticut River, Thames River, Mount Hope Bay drainage systems in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island; also populations are known from the West Branch of The Farmington River, Otis, Connecticut; Slocum Brook, Tolland, Connecticut; Dickinson Brook, Granville, Massachusetts; Sawmill Brook, Monson, Massachusetts; and Sucker Brook, Fall River, Massachusetts (Smith, 2000). In New York's Hudson River drainage, Smith (1979) added Rensselaer Co. In Ohio it likely always existed in the preglacial Groveport, Dover, and Pittsburgh River basins, spreading postglacially to Lake Erie and its tributary streams having sufficient gradient (Thoma and Jezerinac, 2000). It is common in Lake Erie tributary streams from Conneaut Creek (Ashtabula Co.) westward to Pickerel Creek (Sandusky Co.), in the Mahoning River, the middle and upper Muskingum River drainages, and eastern tributaries flowing directly into the Ohio River as far south as, but not including: Duck Creek (Washington Co.); all Ohio (Jezerinac and Thoma, 1984). In West Virginia, it occurs throughout the Kanawha River basin, southwestern Ohio River basins, and central portions of the Ohio River direct drains (Loughman and Welsh, 2010). In the Cumberland Plateau, it occurs in Russell Fork (Big Sandy River basin) and the Kentucky River systems where it is very common (Bouchard, 1974). It is widespread in eastern Kentucky from the Kentucky to Big Sandy River drainages (at least 11 locations there); while in the Licking and Kentucky River drainages it occurs only in the upper half of the system (Taylor and Schuster, 2004). Peake et al. (2004) collected this species in the upper Cumberland and upper Kentucky River basins in Kentucky. In North Carolina it is knwon from the New Watauga, and French Broad River basins and Simmons and Fraley (2010) recently collected it at the majority of sites wurveyed within those basins and appears stable. Eversole and Jones (2004) include it for South Carolina just barely getting into Greenville Co.

Population Size: >1,000,000 individuals

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Some to very many (13 to >125)
Viability/Integrity Comments: It is considered abundant in at least parts of its range (Jezerinac, 1991).

Overall Threat Impact: Low
Overall Threat Impact Comments: There are no known major threats for this species. It is likely to be undergoing localised declines due to habitat degradation and loss, however its tolerance to a certain level of pollution makes it less vulnerable to such threats. The species shows an unusually high tolerance to heavy metal pollutants (Taylor et al., 1995).

Environmental Specificity: Broad. Generalist or community with all key requirements common.
Environmental Specificity Comments: It is fairly general in habitat requirements from small headwater streams only 1 m wide to rivers greater than 14 m in width under slab rock and cobble in pools, mid-stream in flowing water, and along stream margins (Simmons and Fraley, 2010).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) This widespread species occurs from southern Ontario east to New York, west to Illinois, and south to North Carolina and Virginia (Hobbs, 1989) and as far south as Tennessee.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States CT, ILextirpated, IN, KY, MAexotic, MI, NC, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, VA, WV
Canada ON, QCexotic

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
KY Breathitt (21025), Clay (21051), Knott (21119)*, Letcher (21133), Madison (21151), Menifee (21165), Owsley (21189), Perry (21193), Rowan (21205), Wolfe (21237)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
05 Licking (05100101)+, North Fork Kentucky (05100201)+, South Fork Kentucky (05100203)+, Upper Kentucky (05100204)+, Lower Kentucky (05100205)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Reproduction Comments: Simmons and Fraley (2010) reported Form I males during September and October in 14-20C and young of year in mid-October in North Carolina.
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Riverine Habitat(s): BIG RIVER, CREEK, High gradient, Low gradient, MEDIUM RIVER, Moderate gradient, Pool, Riffle, SPRING/SPRING BROOK
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: It is fairly general in habitat requirements from small headwater streams only 1 m wide to rivers greater than 14 m in width under slab rock and cobble in pools, mid-stream in flowing water, and along stream margins (Simmons and Fraley, 2010).
Phenology Comments: Corey (1990) estimated maximum age of 4 years. Hamr and Berill (1985) estimated maximum age of 3 years in the Kawartha Lakes region of Ontario.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Crayfishes

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on some evidence of historical or current presence of single or multiple specimens, including live specimens or recently dead shells (i.e., soft tissue still attached without signs of external weathering or staining), at a given location with potentially recurring existence. Evidence is derived from reliable published observation or collection data; unpublished, though documented (i.e. government or agency reports, web sites, etc.) observation or collection data; or museum specimen information.
Separation Barriers: Separation barriers are based on hydrological discontinuity. Additional physical barriers, particularly for secondary and tertiary burrowers, include presence of upland habitat between water connections of a distance greater than 30 m. Migration of primary burrowers is generally not hindered by presence of upland habitat unless conditions are very xeric (dry and desert-like) (Smith, 2001).
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 2 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 2 km
Alternate Separation Procedure: Freshwater cave (troglobitic) species may occur from near entrances to very deep in cave systems. For cave species, each cave where an observation or collection was recorded (see Minimum EO Criteria, above) constitutes an element occurrence regardless of separation distance unless caves are part of a single hydrological system (see below). Occurrences are additionally separated by underground physical barriers to movement. Multiple caves within a single hydrological cave system are considered to be a single element occurrence when they are less than one km apart. Multiple caves within a single hydrological cave system are considered separate element occurrences when hydrological connections have not been determined or when separated by a distance of at least one km.
Separation Justification: Habitat for these creatures is primarily separated according to each species' burrowing ability. All crayfish are able to burrow to some extent and this ability will help determine the range of habitats in which a species can be found. Burrowing in the Astacidae is limited to streambed and bank excavation (Hobbs, 1988). The Cambaridae, as a whole are much more adept at burrowing than the Astacidae. As a result, they possess a greater habitat range than the Astacidae including dry water bodies (Hogger, 1988).

The burrowers can be classified into three categories: primary burrowers, secondary burrowers, and tertiary burrowers. Primary burrowers tend to remain in their burrows continuously and live in areas without permanent water except during breeding when they must migrate to a nearby water source (Hogger, 1988). The prairies of eastern and central Mississippi and western Alabama are an example of primary burrower habitat (Hogger, 1988). Secondary burrowers remain in burrows during dry periods but emerge when habitats are inundated seasonally. Such habitat includes lentic systems flooded periodically but dry in summer (Huner and Romaire, 1979) and permanent and temporary ponds and swamps in the southern United States. Tertiary burrowers do not burrow except during infrequent drought conditions and/or during breeding season. Both flowing and standing water can be tertiary burrower habitat.

Because primary burrowers, and to a lesser extent secondary burrowers, can occupy xeric habitats, separation barriers for such species do not include presence of upland habitat except in extremely dry conditions. Survival during dry periods, particularly for secondary burrowers, is dependent upon construction of a burrow regardless of season. Several different types have been described (Smith, 2001) depending on species, soil, and depth of water table.

Published information about movement in relation to migration distance is lacking but Cooper (1998, personal communication) and Fitzpatrick (1998, personal communication) both recommend a separation distance of one km between element occurrences. Dispersal patterns are best known for invasive species which likely have the greatest dispersal capability, therefore, separation distances have been determined for all crayfish based on these studies. Guan and Wiles (1997) provided evidence from the River Great Ouse in the United Kingdom that the range of movement for the majority of the invasive Pacifastacus leniusculus was within 190 m. Bubb et al. (2004) also studied P. leniusculus in England using radio-tagging and found median maximal upstream and downstream movement distances were 13.5 m (range 0-283 m) and 15 m (range 0-417 m), respectively. Barbaresi et al. (2004) found that ranging speed in the invasive crayfish Procambarus clarkii (Girard) to be slow (0.3 to 76.5 m/day) with the widest ranging individual traveling 304 m. Lewis and Horton (1996) found that 21% of tagged Pacifastacus leniusculus in an Oregon harvest pond moved >1000 m in one year while the majority moved <500 m. As such minimum separation distance (unsuitable and suitable) has been set at the NatureServe standard minimum of two km.

Exposed pools and streams in caves represent "karst windows" into more extensive underground streams. No information on the distance cave crayfish can disperse in underground streams is yet available.

Date: 18Oct2004
Author: Cordeiro, J.
Notes: Primary burrowers include the following taxa: Cambarus (Cambarus) carolinus, C. (C.) diogenes diogenes, C. (Depressicambarus) catagius, C. (D.) cymatilis, C. (D.) deweesae, C. (D.) harti, C. (D.) reflexus, C. (D.) pyronotus, C. (D.) striatus, C. (D.) strigosus, C. (D.) truncatus, C. (Glareocola), C. (Jugicambarus) batchi, C. (J.) carolinus, C. (J.) causeyi, C. (J.) dubius, C. (J.) gentryi, C. (J.) monongalensis, C. (J.) nodosus, C. (Lacunicambarus), C. (Tubericambarus), Distocambarus, Fallicambarus, Procambarus (Acucauda), P. (Distocambarus), P. (Girardiella) barbiger, P. (G.) cometes, P. (G.) connus, P. (G.) curdi, P. (G.) gracilis, P. (G.) hagenianus hagenianus, P. (G.) hagenianus vesticeps, P. (G.) liberorum, P. (G.) pogum, P. (Hagenides) [except P. pygmaeus]
Secondary burrowers include the following taxa: Cambarus (Cambarus) ortmanni, C. (Depressicambarus) latimanus, C. (D.) reduncus, Hobbseus, Procambarus (Cambarus) clarkii, P. (Girardiella) kensleyi, P. (G.) reimeri, P. (G.) simulans, P. (G.) steigmani, P. (G.) tulanei, P. (Hagenides) pygmaeus, P. (Leconticambarus) [excepting P. alleni and P. milleri], P. (Ortmannicus) [excepting the cave dwelling species], P. (Tenuicambarus)
Tertiary burrowers include the following taxa: Barbicambarus, Bouchardina, Cambarus (Cambarus) angularis, C. (C.) bartonii carinirostris, C. (C.) bartonii cavatus, C. (C.) howardi, C. (C.) sciotensis, C. (Depressicambarus) englishi, C. (D.) graysoni, C. (D.) halli, C. (D.) obstipus, C. (D.) sphenoides, C. (Erebicambarus) ornatus, C. (E.) rusticiformis, C. (Exilicambarus) cracens, C. (Hiaticambarus), C. (Jugicambarus) asperimanus, C. (J.) bouchardi, C. (J.) crinipes, C. (J.) distans, C. (J.) friaufi, C. (J.) obeyensis, C. (J.) parvoculus, C. (J.) unestami, C. (Puncticambarus) [excepting the cave dwelling species], C. (Veticambarus), Cambarellus, Faxonella, Orconectes [excepting the cave dwelling species], Pacifastacus, Procambarus (Capillicambarus), P. (Girardiella) ceruleus, P.

Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 01Jul2009
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Cordeiro, J.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 23Aug2010
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Cordeiro, J.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Bouchard, R.W. 1974. Geography and ecology of crayfishes of the Cumberland Plateau and Cumberland Mountains, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. Part II. The genera Fallicambarus and Cambarus. Freshwater Crayfish 2:585-605

  • Cooper, J.E. 2010. Annotated checklist of the crayfishes of North Carolina, and correlations of distributions with hydrologic units and physiographic provinces. Journal of the North Carolina Academy of Science 126(3):69-76.

  • Corey, S. 1990. Comparative life histories of four populations of Orconectes propinquus in southwestern Ontario, Canada. Crustaceana 54:129-138.

  • Eversole, A.G. and D.R. Jones. 2004. Key to the crayfish of South Carolina. Unpublished report. Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina. 43 pp.

  • HOBBS, HORTON. H. JR. 1989. AN ILLUSTRATED CHECKLIST OF THE AMERICAN CRAYFISHES (DECAPODA: ASTACIDAE, CAMBARIDAE & PARASTACIDAE). SMITHSONIAN CONTRIBUTIONS TO ZOOLOGY 480:III + 236 PGS., 379 FIGURES.

  • Hamr, P. and M. Berrill. 1985. The life histories of north-temperate populations of the crayfish Cambarus robustus and Cambarus bartoni. Canadian Journal of Zoology 63:2313-2332.

  • Hobbs, H.H., Jr. 1989. An illustrated checklist of the American crayfishes (Decapoda: Astacidae, Cambaridae, and Parastacidae). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 480:1-236.

  • Jezerinac, R.F. 1991. The distribution of crayfishes (Decapoda: Cambaridae) of the Licking River watershed, eastcentral Ohio 1972-1977. Ohio Journal of Science 91(3):108-111.

  • Jezerinac, R.F. and R.F. Thoma. 1984. An illustrated key to the Ohio Cambarus and Fallicambarus (Decapoda: Cambaridae) with comments and a new subspecies record. Ohio Journal of Science, 84: 120-125.

  • Loughman, Z.J. and S.A. Welsh. 2010. Distribution and conservation standing of West Virginia crayfishes. Southeastern Naturalist 9 (special issue 3):63-78.

  • Loughman, Z.J., D.A. Foltz, N.L. Garrison, and S. A. Welsh. 2013. Cambarus (P.) theepiensis, a new species of crayfish (Decapoda:Cambaridae) from the coalfields region of eastern Kentucky and southwestern West Virginia, USA. Zootaxa 3641(1):063-073.

  • McLaughlin, P.A., D.K. Camp, M.V. Angel, E.L. Bousfield, P. Brunel, R.C. Brusca, D. Cadien, A.C. Cohen, K. Conlan, L.G. Eldredge, D.L. Felder, J.W. Goy, T. Haney, B. Hann, R.W. Heard, E.A. Hendrycks, H.H. Hobbs III, J.R. Holsinger, B. Kensley, D.R. Laubitz, S.E. LeCroy, R. Lemaitre, R.F. Maddocks, J.W. Martin, P. Mikkelsen, E. Nelson, W.A. Newman, R.M. Overstreet, W.J. Poly, W.W. Price, J.W. Reid, A. Robertson, D.C. Rogers, A. Ross, M. Schotte, F. Schram, C. Shih, L. Watling, G.D.F. Wilson, and D.D. Turgeon. 2005. Common and scientific names of aquatic invertebrates from the United States and Canada: Crustaceans. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 31: 545 pp.

  • Peake, D.R., G.J. Pond, and S.E. McMurray. 2004. Development of tolerance values for Kentucky crayfishes. Report to the Kentucky Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet, Department for Environmental Protection, Division of Water, Frankfurt, Kentucky. 30 pp.

  • Simmons, J.W. and S.J. Fraley. 2010. Distribution, status, and life-history observations of crayfishes in western North Carolina. Southeastern Naturalist 9 (special issue 3):79-126.

  • Smith, D.G. 1979. New locality records of crayfishes from the middle Hudson River system. Ohio Journal of Science, 79(3): 133-135.

  • Smith, D.G. 2000a. Keys to the Freshwater Macroinvertebrates of Southern New England. Douglas G. Smith: Sunderland, Massachusetts. 243 pp.

  • Taylor, C.A. and G.A. Schuster. 2004. The Crayfishes of Kentucky. Illinois Natural History Survey Special Publication, 28: viii + 210 pp.

  • 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):371-389.

  • Taylor, R.M., G.D. Watson, and M.A. Alikhan. 1995. Comparative sub-lethal and lethal acute toxicity of copper tot he freshwater crayfish, Cambarus robustus (Cambaridae, Decapoda, Crustacea) from an acidic metal-contaminated lake and a circumneutral uncontaminated stream. Water Research 29(2):401-408.

  • Thoma, R.F. and R.E. Jezerinac. 2000. Ohio crayfish and shrimp atlas. Ohio Biological Survey Miscellaneous Contribution 7:1-28.

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