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Image of Red swamp crawfish
Unresolved name

Red Swamp Crawfish

Procambarus clarkii

Conservation Status

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Procambarus clarkii is a large prolific species of crayfish. Characterized by its aggressive burrowing, this speices is well adapted to life even when water levels fluctuate drastically. It is not surprising, that this species survives in very simple, shallow burrows (Jarmon 1999).

US Federal List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Rogers, J. 2000. "Procambarus clarkii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Procambarus_clarkii.html
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Julia Rogers, Southwestern University
editor
Stephanie Fabritius, Southwestern University
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Benefits

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Because of the success of commercial aquaculture in its native southern USA, the red swamp crayfish has been introduced to many other areas. Most of these introductions have had negative consequences. Many of these areas have sophisticated irrigation systems in which the crayfish have burrowed. The burrowing activity has damaged the levees, dams, and water control structures. In addition, Procambarus clarkii is an intermediate host for many parasitic helminths of vertebrates, which may create new health problems in areas where the species is successfully established. Because of such adverse effects, many areas introduced to the red swamp crayfish are now trying to eradicate them (Jarmon 1999).

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The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
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Rogers, J. 2000. "Procambarus clarkii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Procambarus_clarkii.html
author
Julia Rogers, Southwestern University
editor
Stephanie Fabritius, Southwestern University
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Benefits

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The red swamp crayfish, along with many other species of crayfish are an important source of food for humans. Especially in areas where Cajun communities are common, crayfish are the main ingredient in many everyday meals. Louisiana alone has 48,500+ ha of culture ponds. Procambarus clarkii was introduced to Japan as a food source for bullfrogs, and is now a common family pet all over the main island. This species also appears in many European pet markets. This species is very selective when it comes to its diet. There are many aquatic and semi-aquatic snails that are vectors for human pathogens such as Schistosomiasis. The red swamp crayfish significantly contribute to the control of these snail populations (Barnes 1974; Jarmon 1999).

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The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Rogers, J. 2000. "Procambarus clarkii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Procambarus_clarkii.html
author
Julia Rogers, Southwestern University
editor
Stephanie Fabritius, Southwestern University
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Trophic Strategy

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Although some crayfish are known to feed on vegetation, the red swamp crayfish is carnivorous, eating insect larvae, tadpoles, and snails. When traditional food sources are scarce, the crayfish eat the remains of dead animals and worms as well (Safra, et al 1999; Barnes 1974).

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The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Rogers, J. 2000. "Procambarus clarkii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Procambarus_clarkii.html
author
Julia Rogers, Southwestern University
editor
Stephanie Fabritius, Southwestern University
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Distribution

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Although crayfish inhabitat many regions of the Earth, members of the genus Procambarus are located in North America. Procambarus clarkii are mostly found south-central United States, and northeastern Mexico (areas to which this species is native). The red swamp crayfish has also been transplanted to Hawaii, Japan, and even the River Nile (Safra, et al 1999; Jarmon 1999).

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

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The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Rogers, J. 2000. "Procambarus clarkii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Procambarus_clarkii.html
author
Julia Rogers, Southwestern University
editor
Stephanie Fabritius, Southwestern University
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Habitat

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As the common name implies, red swamp crayfish are found mainly in swamps, sloughs, and ditches. This species avoids streams and areas with strong current. During periods of drought or cold, the red swamp crayfish burrows itself for survival (McDonald 1996).

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The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Rogers, J. 2000. "Procambarus clarkii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Procambarus_clarkii.html
author
Julia Rogers, Southwestern University
editor
Stephanie Fabritius, Southwestern University
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Morphology

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Adults of this species are about 2.2 to 4.7 inches in length. Crayfish are characterized by a joined head and thorax, and a segmented body. In the case of the species Procambarus clarkii, the body is a very dark red color, with a wedge-shaped black stripe on the abdomen. Crayfish have a sharp snout and moveable eyes on their heads. Like all arthropods, crayfish have a thin but tough exoskeleton that they shed during development. Crayfish have 5 pairs of walking legs, the first of which are large pinchers used for feeding. On the red swamp crayfish, the pinchers tend to be narrow and long. They have long antennae with sensory organs on them. This along with appendages used for feeding, are characteristic of the subphylum Mandibulata. There are also five pairs of smaller appendages called swimmerets on the abdomen. The carapace of this species, located on the dorsal side, are not separated by a space. The most posterior pair of appendages are called uropods. Uropods are flat, broad extentions that surround the telson, which is the last abdominal segment. Uropods are also used for swimming (Safra, et al 1999; McDonald 1996; Vodopich and Moore 1999; Barnes 1974).

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; bilateral symmetry

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The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Rogers, J. 2000. "Procambarus clarkii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Procambarus_clarkii.html
author
Julia Rogers, Southwestern University
editor
Stephanie Fabritius, Southwestern University
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Reproduction

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The red swamp crayfish mate in late autumn. Sexes are separate, but the location of gonads are similar in both males and females -just anterior to the heart. Testes are usually white, while ovaries are usually orange. The sperm cells (crayfish sperm lack tails and are sometimes referred to as spermatophores) are released from the body of male crayfish through a pore at the base of the fifth pair of walking legs. Fertilization is internal. Sperm enters the female at the base of the third pair of walking legs, where the eggs are fertilized and released. The female crayfish then lies on her back and curls her abdomen forward. By beating her pleopods, or swimmerets, the female creates a water current which drives the fertilized eggs into the swimmerets where they will remain for approximately 6 weeks. By spring, the eggs will become larvae, and remain on the mother until sexually mature. The red swamp crayfish reach maturity in as little as three months, and in warm climates can reproduce two generations per year. Large healthy females typically produce over 600 viable young (Barnes 1974; Vodopich and Moore 1999; Safra, et al 1999).

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cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Rogers, J. 2000. "Procambarus clarkii" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Procambarus_clarkii.html
author
Julia Rogers, Southwestern University
editor
Stephanie Fabritius, Southwestern University
original
visit source
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Animal Diversity Web

Distribution in Europe

provided by EOL authors
Introduced to southern Spain in 1973, this crayfish became an important commercial species inside 10 years, and it is now the most abundant and widespread crayfish species in Spain. It is now also abundant in France, Italy and on several Mediterranean islands, and extends as far north as the U.K. and Germany.
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Diagnostic Description

provided by FAO species catalogs
Body shape cylindrical.

Cephalotorax conspicuously granular (roughened) in adults, provided of numerous small tuberculi and also having strong cervical, cephalic, branchiostegal, and marginal spines. Rostrum long with margins straight, convergent, having marginal spines near its tip, ending in a triangular acumen. Chelae narrow and long, notch in proximal portion of dactyl, leaving gap and delimited by tubercle. Large tubercle opposite end of gap on fixed finger; large scarlet tubercles on the palm and fingers. Carapace not separated at the middle (dorsally) by a space, the areola.

Colour in adults dark red, some in shades of brown. A wedge-shaped black stripe is present on the abdomen. Chelae with bright red tubercles. Juveniles uniform grey, sometimes overlain by dark wavy lines.

Size

provided by FAO species catalogs
Total lenght usually between 10,5-11,8 cm (35 to 56 g wet weight respectively). Maximum size up to 20 cm.

Brief Summary

provided by FAO species catalogs
In lentic and lotic freswater habitats: sluggish streams and lentic habitats, swamps, ditches, sloughs, ponds, etc. especially in vegetation, leaf litter, etc. It avoids streams and ditches with strong flow, where it is replaced by other species (i.e. the White River crayfish Procambarus acutus).Territorial behaviour, aggressive with its own species. It burrows during periods of drought or cold.A benthic omnivorous, feeding on insects, larvae, detritus, etc. with preference for vegetal matter. Females fecundity around 500 eggs average. Females dig burrows in dry areas in the period of reproduction (late spring- early summer in the area of origin). It is a fast-growing species: in adequate conditions larvae were born after 21 days of incubation (5 mm long at 2 days), growing to 2 cm 1 month later and up to 80 mm of lenght in 3 months.

An eurytermal species (10-22 °C to 30 °C or more). Inhabit all types of water, with preference for hard water.

Benefits

provided by FAO species catalogs
P. clarkii is the dominant North American commercial crayfish. Wild P. clarkii caught seasonally using fishing traps. There is an important aquaculture industry for crayfish in the USA. Culture is developed on farm ponds. Most commercial exploitation of the red swamp crayfish, and the related species Procambarus zonangulus, occurs in Louisiana. Statistics from 1984-1986 oscillated between 27 000 to 44 318 tonnes/yr. (between ca. 30000-45000 tons/yr in Lousiana in recent years - 85% of catches of P. clarkii). In the areas where it has been introduced P. clarkii is highly invasive and a potential vector for the crayfish plague (the fungi Aphanomyces astaci). Crayfish plague was introduced into Europe in 1960s with massive introduction of American freshwater crayfish species. Ever since, many native freshwater crayfish populations disminished or it have been eliminated. Crayfish are economically important in a number of the USA states for human consumption and also as fish bait.

Comprehensive Description

provided by Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology
Procambarus (Scapulicambarus) clarkii (Girard)

Cambarus Clarkii Girard, 1852:91.—Hagen, 1870:59, figs. 7–10, 99, 100, 133, 134, 142, pl. 4.

Cambarus clarkii.—Faxon, 1898:644.

Cambarus (Cambarus) clarki.—Ortmann, 1905c: 102.

Cambarus (Ortmannicus) clarkii.—Fowler, 1912:341 [by implication].

Cambarus clarkii clarkii.—Faxon, 1914:369 [by implication].

Procambarus clarkii.—Hobbs, 1942a:342 [by implication]; 1962b:273, figs. 1–9.

Procambarus clarki.—Penn and Hobbs, 1958:466, figs. 2, 21, 36, 49, 65.

Procambarus clarcii.—Unestam, 1969:203 [erroneous spelling].

Procambarus (Scapulicambarus) clarkii.—Hobbs, 1972a:12.

TYPES.—Destroyed in Chicago fire, 1871 (Faxon, 1914:414).

TYPES-LOCALITY.—Between San Antonio and El Paso del Norte, Texas.

RANGE.—Northern Mexico to Escambia County, Florida, and north to southern Illinois.

HABITAT.—Lentic and lotic situations and burrows.
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bibliographic citation
Hobbs, Horton Holcombe, Jr. 1974. "A Checklist of the North and Middle American Crayfishes (Decapoda: Astacidae and Cambaridae)." Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology. 1-161. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.00810282.166

Comprehensive Description

provided by Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology
Procambarus (Scapulicambarus) clarkii (Girard)

Cambarus Clarkii Girard, 1852:91.—Hagen, 1870:39, figs. 7–10, 99, 100, 133, 134, 142, pl. 4.

Cambarus clarkii.—Faxon, 1898:645.

Cambarus clarki.—Hay, 1902b:437.

Cambarus (Cambarus) clarki.—Ortmann, 1905b:401.

Cambarus (Ortmannicus) clarkii.—Fowler, 1912:341 [by implication].

Cambarus clarkii clarkii.—Faxon, 1914:369 [by implication].

Procambarus clarkii clarkii.—Hobbs, 1942a:342 [by implication].

Procambarus clarkii.—Hobbs, 1942b:103; 1962b:273, figs. 1–9.—Huner, 1977:10.—Pflieger, 1987a:30; 1987b:14.

Cambaus clarkii.—Okada, 1948:133 [erroneous spelling].

Procambarus clarki.—Fingermann and Lago, 1957:383.—Penn and Hobbs, 1958:466, figs. 2, 21, 36, 49, 65.

Procambrus clarkii.—Sukô, 1961:37 [erroneous spelling].

Procambarus (Cambarus) clarkii.—Niiyama, 1962:232.

Procambarus clarcii.—Unestam, 1969:203 [erroneous spelling].

Procambarus (Scapulicambarus) clarkii.—Hobbs, 1972a:12; 1974b:65, fig. 283.

P[rocambarus] (O[rtmannicus]) clarki.—Bouchard, 1972b:102 [lapsus].

Procamborus clarkii.—Franzini-Armstrong, 1976:218 [erroneous spelling].

Procamburus clarkii.—Brown and Bowler, 1978:34 [erroneous spelling].

Combarus clarkii.—Shinozaki and Ishida, 1981:50 [erroneous spelling].

Procambarius clarki.—Mauro, Thompson, and Melacha, 1983:938 [erroneous spelling].

Procambambarus clarkii.—Appelberg, 1983:67 [erroneous spelling].

Cambarus calrkii.—Morales, Bozada, and Casanova, 1987:188 [erroneous spelling].

TYPES.—Destroyed in Chicago fire, 1871 (Faxon, 1914:414).

TYPE LOCALITY.—Between San Antonio and El Paso del Norte, Texas.

RANGE.—Northern Mexico to Escambia County, Florida, and north to southern Illinois and Ohio. Widely introduced in the United States and elsewhere; Huner (1986) recorded the following introductions: Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Belize, Brazil, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Island of Cyprus, Japan, Kenya, People's Republic of China, Portugal, Spain, Taiwan, and Uganda. It has also been introduced into Oklahoma and into Utah (Johnson, 1986:630). Limited cultivation is in progress in Colombia, France, and Zambia, and introductions are planned or have been made in Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

HABITAT.—Lentic and lotic situations and burrows (tertiary burrower).
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bibliographic citation
Hobbs, Horton Holcombe, Jr. 1989. "An Illustrated Checklist of the American Crayfishes (Decapoda, Astacidae, Cambaridae, Parastacidae)." Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology. 1-236. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.00810282.480