Orconectes obscurus - (Hagen, 1870)
Allegheny Crayfish
Other English Common Names: Obscure Crayfish
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Orconectes obscurus (Hagen, 1870) (TSN 97466)
French Common Names: écrevisse obscure
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.112938
Element Code: ICMAL11130
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Crustaceans - Crayfishes
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Crustacea Malacostraca Decapoda Cambaridae Orconectes
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: Orconectes obscurus
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: This species is relatively widespread and abundant, but has been eliminated from parts of its range due to the competitive impact of the invasive species O. rusticus, and has shown declines due to acid mine runnoff from strip mining. Whilst these impacts are insufficient to trigger a threatened category listing, these local declines and extirpations should be monitored.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (19Feb1996)
Nation: Canada
National Status: NNA (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 Maine (SNA), Maryland (S3), Massachusetts (SNA), New York (SNA), Ohio (S3), Pennsylvania (S5), Virginia (S3), West Virginia (S4)
Canada Ontario (SNA), 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 species ranges from southeastern Ontario and New York to Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, south to West Virginia, northern Virginia, and western Maryland (Hobbs, 1989). Fitzpatrick (1967) included the Ohio River drainage east of the 81st meridian; Susquehanna, Potomac, and upper Rappahannock River drinages; miscellaneous Lake Erie and Lake Ontario drainages in extreme western New York, northern Pennsylvania, and extreme northeastern Ohio.

Number of Occurrences: > 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species has been introduced to Massachusetts in the North Branch of the Housic River and some of its tributaries; and in Goose Pond in Lee, Greenwater Pond in Becket, Konkapot Brook in Stockbridge (all Housatonic River system); and in the Housatonic River in Stockbridge (Smith, 2000). Smith (1979) noted that although it occurs in limited areas of the upper Mohawk River system, Fitzpatrick's (1967) deptiction of its presence also in the lower Hudson River and upper Delaware River systems of New York is erroneous. In Maryland, it is distributed from the Piedmont to the Appalachian Plateau but is also in impounements in the Appalachian Plateau and Ridge and Valley Provinces (Kilian et al., 2010) and is known only historically from the Coastal Plain (Meredith and Schwartz, 1960). Jezerinac et al. (1995) considered it native to the Potomic River drainage but Ortmann (1906) suggested it was introduced east of the continental divide in Wills Creek (Potomac tributary near Cumberland, Maryland); thus its native status is unclear in Maryland, however the population in Octoraro Creek (Susquehanna tributary) is most likely an introduction by anglers (Bouchard et al., 2007). In West Virginia, its distribution is primarily allied with the Potomac and ancient Pittsburgh River systems and it occurs throughout the Potomac River drainage, Monongahela River drainage, higher elevations in the Greenbrier River drainage, and central and northern portions of the Ohio River direct drains (Loughman and Welsh, 2010). In Ohio, it is found in tributaries of the Ohio River from Sunfish Creek (Monroe Co.) to Little Beaver Creek (Columbiana Co.) with very little range expansion since the retreat of the Wisconsin Glacier (Thoma and Jezerinac, 2000). Jezerinac (1986) lists Belmont, Columbiana, Jefferson, Mahoning, Monroe, Portage, Stark, and Trumbull Cos., Ohio.

Population Size: >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Orconectes obscurus is common and abundant in much of its range (Jezerinac, 1986).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Many to very many (41 to >125)

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Orconectes obscurus has been displaced by Orconectes rusticus in areas where this invasive crayfish has encroached, as O. rusticus is less vulnerable to predation than O. obscurus (Kuhlmann et al., 2008). O. obscurus has been replaced entirely by O. rusticus in the Sunfish Creek watershed, Ohio (Jezerinac, 1986; R. Thoma, pers. comm., 2009.). This is known to have occurred within a 30 year period. It is also impacted across large areas of its range by acid mine runoff from strip mining which are causing localized population decline. There are still large portions of the range which have not been invaded, and O. obscurus has strong holds in small, forested headwater streams (Thoma and Jezerinac, 2000; Kulmann et al., 2008).

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)

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

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Not intrinsically vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Broad. Generalist or community with all key requirements common.

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 species ranges from southeastern Ontario and New York to Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, south to West Virginia, northern Virginia, and western Maryland (Hobbs, 1989). Fitzpatrick (1967) included the Ohio River drainage east of the 81st meridian; Susquehanna, Potomac, and upper Rappahannock River drinages; miscellaneous Lake Erie and Lake Ontario drainages in extreme western New York, northern Pennsylvania, and extreme northeastern Ohio.

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 MAexotic, MD, MEexotic, NYexotic, OH, PA, VA, WV
Canada ONexotic, QCexotic

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
OH Portage (39133)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
05 Mahoning (05030103)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Riverine Habitat(s): CREEK
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic, Burrowing in or using soil
Habitat Comments: Inhabits clear streams with gravel bottoms (Hogger, 1988).
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: 23Dec1996

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

References
Help
  • Bouchard, R.W., D.A. Lieb, R.f. Carline, T.R. Nuttall, C.B. Wengert,and J.R. Wallace. 2007. 101 years of change (1906-2007). The distribution of the crayfishes of Pennsylvania. Part I: Eastern Pennsylvania. Academy of Natural Sciences of Pheladelphia, Report number 07-11. 83 pp.

  • Dube, J. J-F. Desroches, F.W. Schueler, R. Pariseau, D. St.-Hilaire, and I. Picard. 2002. Premiere mention de l'ecrevisse Orconectes obsucrus (Hagen) au Quebec. The Canadian Naturalist 126(2): 48-50.

  • Dube, J. et J.-F. Desroches. 2007. Les ecrevisses du Quebec. Ministere des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune, Direction de l'amenagement de la faune de l'Estrie, de Montreal et de la Monteregie, Longueuil. v + 51 pp.

  • Fielder, D.D. 1972. Some aspects of the life histories of three closely related crayfish species, Orconectes obscurus, O. sanborni, and O. propinquus. The Ohio Journal of Science 72(3):129-145.

  • Fitzpatrick, J.F. Jr. 1967. The propinquus group of the crawfish genus Orconectes (Decapoda: Astacidae). The Ohio Journal of Science, 67(3): 129-172.

  • 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., G. W. Stocker, and D. C. Tarter. 1995. The Crayfishes (Decapoda: Cambaridae) of West Virginia. Bulletin of the Ohio Biological Survey, Vol. 10, No. 1. Ohio Biological Survey, College of Biological Sciences, The Ohio State University, and Nongame Wildlife and Natural Heritage Programs, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Columbus, Ohio. 193 pp.

  • Jezerinac, R.F. 1986. Endangered and threatened crayfishes ( Decapoda: Cambaridae) of Ohio. Ohio Journal of Science 86: 177-180.

  • Kilian, J.V., A.J. Becker, S.A. Stranko, M. Ashton, R.J. Klauda, J. Gerber, and M. Hurd. 2010. The status and distribution of Maryland crayfishes. Southeastern Naturalist 9 (special issue 3):11-32.

  • Kuhlmann, M.L. 2008. Do invading rusty crayfish interfere with reproduction in a native congener? Journal of Crustacean Biology, 28(3): 461-465.

  • Kuhlmann, M.L., S.L. Badylak, and E.L. Carvin. 2008. Testing the different predation hypothesis for the invasion of rusty crayfish in a stream community: Laboratory and field experiments. Freshwater Biology 53:113-128.

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

  • 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.

  • Meredith, W.G. and F.J. Schwartz. 1960. Maryland crayfishes. Maryland Department of Research and Education, Educational Series 46:1-32.

  • Schwartz, F.J. and W.G. Meredith. 1962. Crayfishes of the Cheat River watershed in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Part II. Observations upon ecological factors relating to distribution. The Ohio Journal of Sciences, 62(5): 260-273.

  • 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., 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.

  • 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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