Procambarus acutus - (Girard, 1852)
White River Crawfish
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Procambarus acutus (Girard, 1852) (TSN 97492)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.108941
Element Code: ICMAL14230
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Crustaceans - Crayfishes
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Crustacea Malacostraca Decapoda Cambaridae Procambarus
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ species)
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference
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: Procambarus acutus
Taxonomic Comments: A species complex, currently under revision by Hobbs, Jr., Hobbs III, and Fitzpatrick; one population already split off as Procambarus zonagulus (Hobbs and Hobbs, 1990); and Mexican Procambarus blandingii cuevachicae designated as a subspecies of acutus (Hobbs, 1967).
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 01Jul2009
Global Status Last Changed: 19Feb1996
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: This species natural range encompasses more than half of the US States and is a habitat generalist, being able to utilize both stream and pond habitats. It is not found locally in abundance, but is clearly widely distributed and tolerant of a great range of habitats. The species is part of a species complex with several widespread clades within it. For a robust assessment of this species, a taxonomic study of the species boundaries in the complex is in need.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (19Feb1996)

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 Alabama (S5), Arkansas (SNR), California (SNA), Connecticut (S3S4), Delaware (SNR), District of Columbia (SNR), Florida (SNR), Georgia (SNR), Illinois (S5), Indiana (SNR), Iowa (SNR), Kansas (S2), Kentucky (SU), Louisiana (S5), Maine (SNA), Maryland (S4), Massachusetts (S4), Michigan (SNR), Minnesota (SNR), Mississippi (SNR), Missouri (SNR), New Jersey (S4), New York (SNR), North Carolina (S5), Ohio (S4), Oklahoma (S5), Pennsylvania (SU), Rhode Island (SNA), South Carolina (SNR), Tennessee (S5), Texas (SNR), Virginia (SNR), West Virginia (S1), Wisconsin (S4)

Other Statuses

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

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Complete and accurate range is ambivalent because of taxonomic confusions and widespread introductions; it probably was originally from the Tombigbee basin, northeast along coastal plain and piedmont to New England but absent from north of Boston (1 record) and central and western Connecticut (Smith, 1982; 2000). According to Hubbs (1989), it ranges from Maine to the Florida panhandle west to Texas and north to Minnesota. It has been introduced by aquaculturists in many places. The subspecies cuevachicae known from San Luis Potosi, Mexico (Moles and Tistler, 1995).

Area of Occupancy: >12,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: > 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: In the Cumberland Plateau it is in tributaries of the Tennessee River eastward to Sequatchie Valley in Alabama and lower tributaries of the Black Warrior and probably Sipsey (Tombigbee basin) River systems (Bouchard, 1974). In Alabama, it is known from all river systems except the Cahaba, Tallapoosa, Perdido, and Chattahootchee (Mirarchi et al., 2004, app. 1.2, pub. separately; Schuster and Taylor, 2004; Schuster et al., 2008). Heath et al. (2010) documented it in southeastern Alabama in 3 of 50 sites (eastern edge of Choctawhatchee River watershed only). In Kentucky, it is commonly in most aquatic habitats west of the lower Cumberland River and sporadic in the middle and lower Green River drainage; also introduced in the Pond Creek drainage, Jefferson Co., ponds in the Bluegrass Army Depot and Central Kentucky WMA in Madison Co., and Minor Clark Fish State Hatchery in Rowan Co. (Taylor and Scuster, 2004). In Missouri, it is throughout the Lowland Faunal Region, into adjacent Ozarks, and northward along the Mississippi River flood plain to Clark Co.; with isolated populations along the Chariton River in Schuyler Co. and Grand River in Livingston Co. (Pflieger, 1996). In Kansas, it is in one locality in Cherokee Co. (Ghedotti, 1998). In Ohio it entered in the northwest corner postglacially and is in the northwest portion and likely throughout the Maumee, Portage and Sandusky basins and Grand River (Thoma and Jezerinac, 2000). In Indiana, it is limited to lowland streams in the Patoka River drainage in Pikeand Dubois Cos. (Simon et al., 2005) but mostly in small streams from caves and karst springs (Simon and Thoma, 2003). It was recently added to West Virginia based on 6 specimens from east of Point Pleasant, Mason Co. in vernal pools (Kanawha floodplain) (Loughman, 2007) and a ditch nearby (Loughman and Welsh, (2010). Recently it was found at several sites in the Catawba River and tributaries in North Carolina and extending into South Carolina to the Wateree drainage (Alderman, 2005) but is native to all Coastal Plain and eastern Piedmont basins (Cooper, 2005) and introduced in the Watauga, French Broad,and Broad (Simmons and Fraley, 2010). In South Carolina, it is throughout much of the coastal plain and piedmont (Eversole and Jones, 2004). Hobbs et al. (1976) documented it in the Savannah River Plant Park (on Savannah River) in southwest South Carolina. In Maryland, it is throughout the Coastal Plain in most tributaries on the Delmarva Peninsula and below the fall line in western tributaries to Chesapeake Bay and the lower Potomac River with two recent introductions in the Piedmont (Kilian et al., 2010) plus introductions in Deep Creek Lake and Youghiogheny Lake in the Appalachian Plateau (Loughman, 2010). It was reported in New Jersey (as P. blandingi blandingi) from Atlantic (3 localities), Burlington (2 localities), Cumberland (3 localities), Essex (1 locality), Gloucester (4 localities), Mercer (5 localities), Middlesex (2 localities), Ocean (3 localities), Passaic (1 locality), and Salem (4 localities) Cos.; plus 6 unconfirmed localities. Horowitz and Flinders (2004) found it uncommon (2 of 15 stations) in the Piedmont, Ridge and Valley and Highlands regions of New Jersey. It has been widely introduced and is questionably native or exotic in southern New England but is restricted to from the Pawcatuck drainage (eastern Connecticut) through the Blackstone system (Rhode Island) east through all southeastern coastal drainages, including Cape Cod but not north of the Charles River basin; and outside this range in the Spicket River in Methuen (Merrimack River drainage), a few tributaries in the Northampton and Amherst vicinity (Mill River in Connecticut River drainage), and the Millers River in Ashburnham (Connecticut River drainage); all in Massachusetts (Smith, 1982; 2000). An introduced population occurs in California in Escondido Creek in San Diego Co. (Bouchard, 1977).

Population Size: >1,000,000 individuals

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very many (>125)
Viability/Integrity Comments: In Indiana, it was found infrequently at 22 of 176 sites in a survey of Clay, Greene, Knox, Owen, Sullivan, and Vigo Cos. (Burskey and Simon, 2010).

Overall Threat Impact: Low
Overall Threat Impact Comments: It is known to be infected by the parasitic worm Alloglossidium dolandi (Turner, 2007) and Alloglossoides caridicola (Turner, 2000). However, the effects of this parasite are unlikely to impact the global population of this species.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Not intrinsically vulnerable
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: It is a habitat generalist, being able to utilize both stream and pond habitats

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Complete and accurate range is ambivalent because of taxonomic confusions and widespread introductions; it probably was originally from the Tombigbee basin, northeast along coastal plain and piedmont to New England but absent from north of Boston (1 record) and central and western Connecticut (Smith, 1982; 2000). According to Hubbs (1989), it ranges from Maine to the Florida panhandle west to Texas and north to Minnesota. It has been introduced by aquaculturists in many places. The subspecies cuevachicae known from San Luis Potosi, Mexico (Moles and Tistler, 1995).

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 AL, AR, CAexotic, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MEexotic, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RIexotic, SC, TN, TX, VA, WI, WV

Range Map
No map available.

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CT Fairfield (09001), Hartford (09003), Litchfield (09005), Middlesex (09007), New London (09011), Tolland (09013), Windham (09015)
KS Cherokee (20021)
OK Blaine (40011), Caddo (40015), Harper (40059), McClain (40087), McCurtain (40089), Pottawatomie (40125), Tulsa (40143), Woodward (40153)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Lower Connecticut (01080205)+, Pawcatuck-Wood (01090005)+, Quinebaug (01100001)+, Shetucket (01100002)+, Thames (01100003)+, Housatonic (01100005)+, Saugatuck (01100006)+
11 Middle Neosho (11070205)+, Lower Canadian-Deer (11090201)+, Lower Canadian-Walnut (11090202)+, Lower Beaver (11100201)+, Middle North Canadian (11100301)+, Polecat-Snake (11110101)+, Mountain Fork (11140108)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: a crayfish
General Description: Rostrum acuminate; cervical spine present; areola narrow with about 2-3 punctations in narrowest part; chela elongate, punctate, with row of prominent tubercles along mesial margin of palm; male first pleopod terminating in 4 elements, all directed caudodistally, distal part not tapered, bearing tuft of subapical setae on distinct, cephalodistally situated knob near base of cephalic process; hooks on ischia of male 3rd & 4th pereiopods (Hobbs, Jr., in litt.). [LENGTH: to 75 TCL; to 110 TL] [WIDTH: to 20]
Diagnostic Characteristics: Male with hooks on ischia of 3rd & 4th pereiopods; first pleopod with tuft of subapical setae borne on distinct knob situated laterodistally near base of cephalic process.
Reproduction Comments: Amplexus in fall and early winter; brood in spring; one generation per year. In North Carolina, Form I male was collected late June from Price Lake and five Form I males in late July from the native North Carolina range in 24C (Simmons and Fraley, 2010).
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Riverine Habitat(s): Low gradient, Pool, SPRING/SPRING BROOK
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Shallow water
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian, TEMPORARY POOL
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: Widely tolerant, in most lentic situations in range and in sluggish streams. In Missouri, it is most often found in sloughs, marshes and natural lakes along the flood plains of streams (70% from standing water, 19% from ditches, 11% from small to medium sized streams, 0% from open channels of rivers) (Pflieger, 1996). In West Virginia, it was often found in ephemeral wetland habitats in cotrast to observations in Illinois, where it was collected primarily from sluggist streams (Loughman, 2007).
Adult Food Habits: Detritivore
Immature Food Habits: Detritivore
Food Comments: Opportunistic; immature forms perhaps more so. Whole body lipid content of females sampled from culture ponds found to be significantly greater than males with the proportion of lipids in adults varying through the culture cycle with the lowest lipid levels occurring in crayfish sampled after pond reflooding (Eversole et al., 1999).
Adult Phenology: Circadian
Immature Phenology: Circadian
Economic Attributes
Economic Comments: Significant aquaculture and fisheries associed with the species complex.
Management Summary Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 01Jul2009
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Cordeiro, J.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 25Aug2010
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Cordeiro, J. (2010); 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).

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