Cambarus tartarus - Hobbs and Cooper, 1972
Oklahoma Cave Crayfish
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Cambarus tartarus Hobbs and M. R. Cooper, 1972 (TSN 97410)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.118123
Element Code: ICMAL07150
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: Hobbs, H.H., Jr. 1989. An illustrated checklist of the American crayfishes (Decapoda: Astacidae, Cambaridae, and Parastacidae). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 480:1-236.
Concept Reference Code: B89HOB01EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Cambarus tartarus
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G1
Global Status Last Reviewed: 17May2010
Global Status Last Changed: 09Sep2008
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: This species only occurs in two caves which are fragmented. The EOO is based on the total length of the conduit and passage in the two caves, however it is not known if C. tartarus is present along the whole of the conduit which makes up the bulk of the EOO. There is a continuing decline in the extent and quality of habitat due and a small total population of 80 individuals. Even though the numbers of sites that this species is located in, has increased from one to two, it is still sensitive to any severe habitat degradation that may occur. The two caves are not physically connected, but their groundwater zones are contiguous. However, this does not mean that the species would be easily able to distribute itself to other caves if one of the sites was severely impacted. Other searches have been conducted at nearby caves, and no individuals have been recorded. Even though there are several conservation plans in place to protect the immediate land outside of the caves and the installation of cave gates, no attempts have been made to improve the groundwater or river water quality. The land outside of the natural refuges are continuing to feed polluted water into groundwater areas, increasing levels of metals, toxins and reducing the levels of dissolved oxygen, negatively impacting this highly adapted cave species. Due to the longevity of this species, it is unknown what the long term impacts of prolonged exposure to toxins might have in the future.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1 (09Sep2008)

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 Oklahoma (S1)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: CR - Critically endangered
American Fisheries Society Status: Endangered (01Aug2007)

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: <100 square km (less than about 40 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Known with certainty from the type locality (Stansberry-January cave system, Delaware County, Oklahoma); reported from three other nearby caves, but these not confirmed by crustacian systematist. Also recently reported from Long's Cave (an additional cave system) but still restricted to Spavinaw Creek in Oklahoma (Graening et al., 2006).

Area of Occupancy: 3-125 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: The two confirmed occurrences are in caves that are 10.8 sq. km distance from each other (Graening et al. 2006).

Number of Occurrences: 1 - 5
Number of Occurrences Comments: Confirmed at two caves in the same creek watershed system in Delaware Co., Oklahoma, and unconfirmed reports at three additional caves (Graening et al., 2006).

Population Size: 1 - 1000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Typical paucity of numbers of a troglobite. Previous to Graening et al. (2006), this species was known from only 6 individuals, but is now considered to number approximately 80 known individuals.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very few (1-3)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Censuses of the two cave populations in Oklahoma in 2001 and 2004 produced record high counts of 17 individuals in Junuary-Stansbury Cave and 63 in Long's Cave (Graening et al., 2006).

Overall Threat Impact: High
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Although a second cave population has recently been discovered (Graening et al., 2006), this species remains vulnerable to extirpation, primarily because of habitat degradation. Development or land use change could result in the extirpation of this species. Spavinaw Creek is designated an impaired water body in Oklahoma under the federal Clean Water Act because of excessive nutrient loading; numerous confined animal feeding operations are located upstream of the crayfish habitats, and the City of Colcord discharges municipal sewage into the watershed (Aley and Aley, 1999 cited in Graening et al., 2006). The overall Neosho River also is designated impaired due to organic enrichment, low dissolved oxygen, altered pH, and the presence of priority toxic organics, metals, and pesticides.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable to increase of <25%
Short-term Trend Comments: Known with certainty from the type locality (Stansberry-January cave system, Delaware County, Oklahoma); reported from three other nearby caves, but these not confirmed by crustacian systematist. Also recently reported from Long's Cave (an additional cave system) but still restricted to Spavinaw Creek in Oklahoma (Graening et al., 2006).

Long-term Trend: Decline of <30% to increase of 25%

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Confirmation of additional reports. Groundwater basin of January-Stansbury Cave should be delineated.

Protection Needs: Recommend that the species receive further protection under state and federal laws.

Distribution
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Global Range: (<100 square km (less than about 40 square miles)) Known with certainty from the type locality (Stansberry-January cave system, Delaware County, Oklahoma); reported from three other nearby caves, but these not confirmed by crustacian systematist. Also recently reported from Long's Cave (an additional cave system) but still restricted to Spavinaw Creek in Oklahoma (Graening et al., 2006).

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: endemic to a single state or province

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States OK

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
OK Delaware (40041)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
11 Lower Neosho (11070209)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Oklahoma Cave crayfish; Cambaridae
General Description: Body and eyes unpigmented, eyes unfaceted; cervical spines absent; areola narrow with 1 or 2 punctations in narrowest part; chela long and slender, fingers slender, mesial margin of palm with single row of >8 tubercles, surface studded with long setae; male 1st pleopod terminating in 2 aubparallel elements, central projection not tapering bent so tip directed almost proximally and with subapical notch, mesial process bent at about 120 degree angle and reaching caudal beyond tip of central projection (Hobbs, Hobbs, and Daniel, 1977). [LENGTH: to 31 TCL; to 65 TL] [WIDTH: to 12]
Diagnostic Characteristics: Albinistic with unfaceted eyes; lacking cervical spines; slender setiferous chela; central projection of male 1st pleopod not tapering, apex directed almost proximally and with subapical notch; mesial process not so strongly arched as central projection and extending caudad beyond its apex.
Reproduction Comments: Reproductively active males in Apr & May; no reports of amplexus or brooding.
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Home range probably does not exceed 50 m.
Subterranean Habitat(s): Subaquatic
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic, Subterranean obligate
Habitat Comments: Cambarus tartarus is found in subterranean streams in two caves. These caves are not physically connected, but their groundwater recharge zones are contiguous (touching) (Graening et al. 2006). The conduit at the first cave is 1, 800 m long and the passage in the second cave is 350 m long.
Adult Food Habits: Detritivore
Immature Food Habits: Detritivore
Food Comments: Probably purely opportunistic able to respond to massive sudden inputs with intervening long periods of deprivations.
Adult Phenology: Circadian
Immature Phenology: Circadian
Phenology Comments: Probably circadian, responding more to seasonal changes than to light regimens.
Economic Attributes
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Economic Comments: No known economic value.
Management Summary
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Biological Research Needs: Life history; environmental needs
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: 17May2010
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Cordeiro, J. (2010); Fitzpatrick, J.F., Jr. (1989); 1999 review by C. Taylor r
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 24Jun2009
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Cordeiro, J. (2009); Fitzpatrick, J.F. (1992)

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

References
Help
  • Crandall, K. A., and S. De Grave. 2017. An updated classification of the freshwater crayfishes (Decapoda: Astacidea) of the world, with a complete species list. Journal of Crustacean Biology (2017):1-39.

  • Graening, G.O., D.B. Fenolio, H.H. Hobbs, III, S. Jones, M.E. Slay, S.R. McGinnis, and J.F. Stout. 2006. Range extension and status update for the Oklahoma cave crayfish, Cambarus tartarus (Decapoda: Cambaridae). The Southwestern Naturalist, 51(1): 94-126.

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

  • Hobbs, H.H., Jr. H.H. Hobbs III, and M.A. Daniel. 1977. A review of the troglobitic decapod Crustaceans of the Americas. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, 244: 1-183.

  • Hobbs, H.H., Jr., and M.R. Cooper. 1972. A new troglobitic crayfish from Oklahoma (Decapoda: Astacidae). Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 85:49-56.

  • Koppelman, J.B. and D.E. Figg. 1995. Genetic estimates of variability and relatedness for conservation of an Ozark Cave crayfish species complex. Conservation Biology, 9(5): 1288-1294.

  • 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.

  • Mehlhop, P.M. 1990. Survey and species determination of cave crayfish from in Oklahoma. Final Report to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

  • 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.

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