Procambarus pallidus - (Hobbs, 1940)
Pallid Cave Crayfish
Other English Common Names: pallid cave crayfish
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Procambarus pallidus (Hobbs, 1940) (TSN 97547)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.120607
Element Code: ICMAL14190
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)
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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 pallidus
Taxonomic Comments: Several populations referred in the past to this species have since been recognized as new species or improperly identified specimens.
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 06Jun2014
Global Status Last Changed: 05Sep2006
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: This species has an estimated extent of occurrence as high as 3,000 square km but is undergoing a continuing decline in the quality of its habitat. However, it is known from more than 80 caves across its range, although many of these may be connected. Further research is needed on the threat status of each cave, with monitoring of cave populations to determine if this species is undergoing a significant decline in population numbers. As a cave species, it is probably quite fragile and sensitive to changes in habitat, especially water quality.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2N3 (05Sep2006)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Florida (S2S3)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: NT - Near threatened
American Fisheries Society Status: Vulnerable (01Aug2007)

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 250-5000 square km (about 100-2000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Restricted to northern peninsular Florida, USA (Franz et al., 1994); occurs along the upper Suwannee River and some tributaries (lower Withlacoochee and lower Santa Fe rivers), as well as in some sinkholes that probably connect to them. Found in Alachua, Columbia, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, and Suwannee counties.

Area of Occupancy: 126-12,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species has been found in more than 80 caves across its range (Hobbs, 1942; Franz et al., 1994), but many of these may be interconnected.

Population Size: 2500 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Though widespread, population densities are generally low.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very few to some (1-40)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Because long-term and quantitative data are minimal or non-existent for most troglobitic crustaceans such as this species, there are no specific criteria by which to define a good element occurrence. In lieu of such measures, an occurrence that is observed persistently across many years, that seems to support a large population based on sightings, and that inhabits a site facing no immediate threats will be considered good.

Overall Threat Impact: High
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Presumably sensitive to degradation of aquifers (pollution), alteration (especially reduction) of detrital flow, and saltwater intrusion that may accompany excessive water withdrawal (for agriculture, industry, and human consumption) or sea level rise. Reported major crayfish kills in spring caves along the upper Suwannee River may reflect pollution events. The species is impacted by urban development, groundwater pollution, and human disturbance. A large number were killed by a flood from an unconfined aquifer (Abell et al., 2007). At least one site was threatened by the construction of a proposed industrial park (Abell et al., 2007). The listing of some of the caves as being good caves for diving will increase disturbance to the species.

Short-term Trend: Unknown

Long-term Trend: Unknown

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Highly vulnerable
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: As a cave species dependent upon detrital flow as well as the quantity and quality of water in the aquifer, it is presumably delicate. However, temporary presence of scuba divers should cause no lasting damage.

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements scarce.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Conduct field surveys to determine the extent, distribution, connectivity, and statuses of all occurrences. For each population, record geographic extent, population demographics and densities, types and levels of threats, and kind and degree of protection if any.

Protection Needs: Legal protection (by acquisition and/or perpetual conservation easement) of at least some occurrences, including substantial buffer areas. Legal protection against commercial exploitation. Assure that managers of conservation lands address this species in all formal management plans.

Global Range: (250-5000 square km (about 100-2000 square miles)) Restricted to northern peninsular Florida, USA (Franz et al., 1994); occurs along the upper Suwannee River and some tributaries (lower Withlacoochee and lower Santa Fe rivers), as well as in some sinkholes that probably connect to them. Found in Alachua, Columbia, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Madison, and Suwannee counties.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: endemic to a single state or province

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

Range Map
No map available.

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
FL Alachua (12001), Columbia (12023), Gilchrist (12041), Hamilton (12047), Lafayette (12067), Levy (12075), Madison (12079), Suwannee (12121)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Oklawaha (03080102)+, Waccasassa (03110101)+, Upper Suwannee (03110201)+, withlacoochee (03110203)+, Lower Suwannee (03110205)+, Santa Fe (03110206)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: Pallid cave crayfish, Cambaridae.
General Description: Body and eyes unpigmented, eyes unfaceted; rostrum with converging margins terminating in sharp angles at base of distinct acumen; cervical spine single, hepatic region devoid of spines; areola quite narrow with 0-1 punctations in narrowest part; chela elongate and slender, lateral margin of palm subserrate, mesial margin of palm with single row of 10-15 spiniform tubercles; male with hooks on ischia of 3rd & 4th pereiopods, coxa of 4th with prominent caudomesial boss; male 1st pleopods asymmetrical, terminating in 4 elements, cephalic process slender and tapering to acute tip slightly overreaching beak-like central projection, apex of central projection directed at nearly right angles to main axis of pleopod, mesial process slender and directed at about 60 degree angle removed proximally from other elements, caudal process broadly subtriangular subdistally directed and arising from small but distinct caudal knob, subapical setae present, cephalic margin broadly rounded but without distinct hump (Hobbs, Hobbs, and Daniel, 1977). [LENGTH: to 40 TCL, to 80 TL] [WIDTH: to 12]
Diagnostic Characteristics: Albinistic, eyes unfaceted; rostrum with margins terminating in angular delineation of base of distinct acumen; single cervical spine, lacking hepatic spines; lateral margin of palm of cheliped subserrate; areola very narrow; beak-like central projection directed at nearly right angle and overreached by slender cephalic process, caudal process prominent and arising on small but distinct caudal knob, subapical setae present, rounded cephalic margin of pleopod but lacking distinct hump.
Reproduction Comments: Reproductively active males in Mar, Apr, Jul, Oct & Dec; single ovigerous female in Nov; no data on amplexus or brooding.
Ecology Comments: Habitat water usually clear, but in one instance was "coffee colored".
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: No data; home range probably does not exceed 50 m.
Subterranean Habitat(s): Subaquatic
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic, Subterranean obligate
Habitat Comments: Cave systems with fresh water; only weakly attracted to sinks and other energy input areas. Reportedly associated with caves that have high flow in newly emerging karst areas. May venture out into the lighted portions of some "blue hole" sinks (Deyrup and Franz, 1994).
Food Comments: No data; probably purely opportunistic.
Phenology Comments: No data; but animals will respond to light sometimes.
Economic Attributes
Economic Comments: No known economic value.
Management Summary
Biological Research Needs: Most aspects of its biology require study. Studies of life history, fecundity, and precise environmental needs would be valuable. Determine population responses to disturbances such as pollution of groundwater and alterations in surface water and detrital flow.
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
Justification: Use the Generic Element Occurrence Rank Specifications (2008).
Key for Ranking Species Element Occurrences Using the Generic Approach (2008).
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 06Jun2014
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Jackson, D. R. (2014, 2013); Cordeiro, J. (2010); Muller, J. W. (1995)
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 09Jun1992
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): FITZPATRICK, J.F.

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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  • Deyrup, M. and R. Franz. 1994. Rare and Endangered Biota of Florida, Volume IV. Invertebrates. University Press of Florida: Gainesville, Florida. 798 pp.

  • Franz, R. (ed.) 1982. Rare and Endangered Biota of Florida: Volume Six: Invertebrates. University Press of Florida: Gainesville, Florida. 131 pp.

  • Franz, R., J. Bauer, and T. Morris. 1994. Review of biologically significant caves and their faunas in Florida and south Georgia. Brimleyana 20:1-109.

  • Franz, R., and J. A. Bauer. 1983e. Cave Site Report: Mirkwood Sink, Suwannee County, Florida. Unpublished report to Florida Natural Areas Inventory.

  • Franz, R., and J. A. Bauer. 1983f. Cave Site Report: Goat Sink, Suwannee County, Florida. Unpublished report to Florida Natural Areas Inventory.

  • Hobbs, H. H., Jr. 1942. The crayfishes of Florida. University of Florida Press, Biological Science Series, 3(2): 179 pp.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Walsh, S.J. 2001. Freshwater macrofauna of Florida karst habitats. Pages 78-88 in E. Kuniansky (ed.). U.S. Geological Survey Karst Interest Group Proceedings, St. Petersburg, Florida, February 13-16, 2001, USGS Water-Resources Investigations Report 01-4011.

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