State Asking For Help To Find, Study Short Mtn. Crayfish

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NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Natural Heritage Program, in partnership with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, is conducting a field study to determine the geographical extent of the Short Mountain crayfish (Cambarus clivosus) in Cannon and DeKalb counties.

This new species, first recognized in 2006, has been found in headwater streams in both the East Fork Stones River and Caney Fork River watersheds, extending generally from Woodbury to Smithville.

Its preferred habitat includes chert- and shale-dominated headwater streams, springs and seeps, often perched high in coves and hollows.  It can, however, extend to valley floors if enough cold spring water is available.

The Short Mountain crayfish makes small burrows in chert and cobble, both in streams and immediately adjacent to streams where the substrate stays wet.

This species is recognized easily by its body coloration that varies from olive drab to burnt orange as seen from above, and by the cream and orange coloration of its pincers as seen from below. It possesses a single row of generally six to eight tubercles on top of the "palm" of the pincer. (See accompanying photos of the Short Mountain crayfish).                     

If you believe you have suitable habitat, or have seen this crayfish, TDEC’s Natural Heritage Program would appreciate hearing from you and would welcome the opportunity to conduct a brief examination of your site.  Headwater areas north and northwest, and south and southwest of the Woodbury town center are of particular interest, but all site information is welcome.

For more information or to discuss potential field examinations, please contact Natural Heritage zoologist David Withers at 615-532-0441 or

TDEC and TWRA would like to express appreciation to the numerous landowners who already have allowed access to their properties for this survey.  Both agencies are deeply grateful for their cooperation.
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Members Opinions:
July 21, 2011 at 4:26pm
Just another crawfish what a waste of tax dollars!
July 21, 2011 at 6:10pm
They have been in the creeks and springs in this county all my life. What is the big deal? Looks like more goverment waste to me.I caught crawfish like these when I was a child, sixty years ago.
July 21, 2011 at 9:12pm
I agree with katydid,this is the most useless thing i have heard of in a long time. This money could go to a better cause,but who am i to judge. They are very good fishing bait. Amen
July 21, 2011 at 9:47pm
I will check my spring branch tomorrow. I for one am pleased that 'we' have a unique species of crawdad. I have caught them since I was a kid, mostly on the Plateau, but never examined them closely as they all 'looked alike' to me. I imagine the amount of funds allocated to this project pales to insignificance when compared to programs that are taken for granted. TnTnTn
July 22, 2011 at 5:05am
Hey, maybe we can start raising 'mud bugs" or "crawfish" like Louisianna then we can have "boils" and "moonshine" in Woodbury. Sounds good to me!!
July 22, 2011 at 2:53pm
Why study and save crayfish (and many other species):

Religious perspective - Humanity has been given responsibility for the beauty of God's creation. This moral obligation is a fundamental aspect of the Abrahamic faiths as stated in Genesis. I personally consider it sinful not to care for God's creation.

Pragmatist perspective - Crayfish and some other species feed heavily on certain pest species found in North American streams. The most notorious of these are black flies, the biting insect so abundant in Canada. As it turns out, black flies are most abundant in those ecosystems lacking crayfish and darters, a group of small fish many people are not aware exist. The beauty of crayfish and darters is that they provide their environmental services free.

Non religious (atheist?) perspective - Most atheist I have met have an elevated level of moral values and have not needed a justification for preserving nature. They normally agree that present generations have an obligation to save diversity for future generations and what the American constitution calls "the greater good".

One last thought, I'm not trying to pick a fight here, just giving a perspective concerning this important subject.
July 22, 2011 at 9:42pm
Them democrats know how to spent money,Margart Thacker had it figured out,socialism is a good deal until you run out of other peoples money.
July 23, 2011 at 10:29am
Um, the Republicans control the state legislature and this has nothing to do with politics. This species is part of what makes Cannon county unique. Reading some of the responses here makes me think these folks would prefer we just strip mine every thing and build Walmarts on every block.
July 23, 2011 at 3:11pm
This study has nothing to do with politics, but does has a lot to do with our environment. The state is asking "volunteers" to help with finding this species. It costs you nothing to check your own property for streams and pools that may have a population of these crayfish. It is also a good indicator of whether your streams are polluted and dead to wildlife or clear and supporting aquatic life.
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