Identification: Cambarellus shufeldtii are rust red to light brown with two distinct color patterns (spotted and striped) that occur in juveniles and adults of both genders. The spotted pattern is characterized by several rows of dark brown to steel-blue spots on the dorsolateral surfaces running from above the eyes to the last segment in the abdomen. The striped pattern is characterized by several dark brown, to steel-blue stripes alternating with opaque stripes of equal width running from above the eyes to the last segment in the abdomen (Penn 1942; Walls 2009, Taylor et al. 2015). There is no intermediate or blending of the two patterns (Penn 1942).
The defining morphological features of this species include a wide areola, a rostrum with a flattened dorsal surface and margins that terminate in small spines, the presence of hooks on the ischia of the second and third pair of walking legs, and gonopods of first form males with three straight terminal elements all in line with the main shaft. These features are well illustrated in Pflieger (1996), Walls (2009), and Taylor et al. (2015).
Native Range: Cambarellus shufeldtii is native to the Gulf Coastal Plain and margins of the Lower Mississippi alluvial basin (Pflieger 1996). This species occurs throughout Louisiana, north through the lower Mississippi mainstem and tributaries to Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee (Pflieger 1996; Walls 2009). The northernmost occurrence of the species was reported by Taylor and Tucker (2005) in Stump Lake, IL a backwater floodplain lake complex of the Illinois River. The native range extends east from the Mississippi alluvial basin along the Gulf Coast of Alabama to the Escambia River in Florida (Taylor and Tucker 2005; Pedraza-Lara et al. 2012). The western front of the native range includes the lower Red River in Louisiana and Texas and extends along the lower coastal plain into southeastern Texas to the Colorado and Brazos Rivers (Fitzpatrick 1983; Page 1985; Hobbs 1989; Taylor and Tucker 2005).
Though supported by some authors (Fitzpatrick 1983, Page 1985, Hobbs 1989, Pflieger 1996, Taylor and Tucker 2005), the eastern and western margins of the range described are contested by others, who suggest its native distribution is confined to the Mississippi alluvial plain (Penn 1942, Penn 1950, Walls 2009).
† Populations may not be currently present.
Ecology: This species can be found in a wide range of habitats including: swamps, ditches, lakes, ponds, and sluggish streams (Penn 1950). Cambarellus shufeldtii is noted to prefer shallow (less than 15 inches), slow-moving, muddy habitats with numerous macrophytes (Penn 1950; Walls 2009). Peterson et al. (1996) described C. shufeldtii’s preference for oxbow side ponds on the Mississippi Gulf coast over adjacent channel habitats. These oxbows typically have lower turbidity, slower moving and warmer water, and support higher densities of aquatic vegetation compared to channel habits (Peterson et al. 1996).
Cambarellus shufeldtii is not an obligate burrower; however, it can endure periods of desiccation through taking refuge in underground “cells”. These cells are sealed from any surface connections and tend to be several inches deep. It is presumed that C. shufeldtii hollow out these cells as water recedes, and they are sealed into the sediments (Penn 1950; Pflieger 1996; Walls 2009).
Ovigerous females and form I males can be found almost anytime during the year (Black 1966). Despite the lack of seasonality in breeding, there are two main peaks in the year when reproductive activity is highest. The first is in late winter and early spring (December to March), and the second is in early summer (May to July) (Lowe 1961; Black 1966; Pflieger 1996). The young grow rapidly, maturing after about 2 months (Penn 1950). Female C. shufeldtii mature when they reach approximately 18 millimeters (mm) in total length (TL) (Lowe 1961). Although life expectancy of female C. shufeldtii is about one year, the average male may live 15-18 months (Black 1966). During its lifespan, the average female produces 2 broods of young (Lowe 1961; Pflieger 1996).
Status: Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (2014) lists a Cambarellus shufeldtii occurrence from 1970 in Eastern Kentucky (Bell County), outside the native range. Penn (1942) noted that 18,000 C. shufeldtii were taken from Pearl River, Louisiana, and introduced in a private fish-culture project, the Peg Factory Lake, near Hamilton, Georgia, on March 15, 1937.
Walls (2009) lists occurrences in Texas and western Louisiana as introduced, but these are under further review.
References: (click for full references)
Black, J.B. 1966. Cyclic male reproductive activities in the dwarf crawfishes Cambarellus shufeldtii
(Faxon) and Cambarellus puer
Hobbs. Transactions of the American Microscopical Society 85(2):214-232.
Faulkes, Z. 2015. Marmorkrebs (Procambarus fallax f. virginalis) are the most popular crayfish in the North American pet trade. Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems 416 (20).
Fitzpatrick, J.F., Jr. 1983. A revision of the dwarf crawfishes (Cambaridae, Cambarellinae). Journal of Crustacean Biology 3(2):266-277. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1548262.
Hobbs, H.H., Jr. 1989. An illustrated checklist of the American crayfishes (Decapoda: Astacidae, Cambaridae, and Parastacidae). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 480:1-236.
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. 2014. Cambarellus shufeldtii. http://app.fw.ky.gov/speciesinfo/speciesListCounty.asp?strScientificName=Cambarellus+shufeldtii&strGroup=14 (Accessed on 02/20/2018)
Lowe, M.E. 1961. The female reproductive cycle of the crayfish Cambarellus shufeldtii: the influence of environmental factors. Tulane Studies in Zoology and Botany 8:157-176.
Page, L.M. 1985. The crayfishes and shrimps (Decapoda) of Illinois. Volume 33. State of Illinois Department of Energy and Natural Resources, Champaign, IL. https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/bitstream/handle/2142/44052/Bulletin33%284%29.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y.
Pedraza-Lara, C., I. Doadrio, J.W. Breinholt, and K.A. Crandall. 2012. Phylogeny and evolutionary patterns in the dwarf crayfish subfamily Decapoda: Cambarellinae). PLoS ONE 7(11):e48233. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0048233.
Penn, Jr., G.H. 1942. Observations on the biology of the dwarf crawfish, Cambarellus shufeldtii (Faxon). American Midland Naturalist 28(3):644-647.
Penn, Jr., G.H. 1950. The Genus Cambarellus in Louisiana (Decapoda, Astacidae). American Midland Naturalist 44(2):421-426.
Penn, Jr., G.H., and J.F. Fitzpatrick. 1963. Interspecific competition between two sympatric species of dwarf crawfishes. Ecology 44(4):793-797. https://doi.org/10.2307/1933033.
Peterson, M.S., Fitzpatrick, J.F., & S.J. VanderKooy. 1996. Distribution and habitat use by dwarf crayfishes (Decapoda: Cambaridae: Cambarellus). Wetlands 16(4):594-598.
Pflieger, W.L. 1996. The crayfishes of Missouri. Missouri Department of Conservation, Jefferson City, MO.
Taylor, C.A., and G.A. Schuster. 2004. The crayfishes of Kentucky. Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, IL.
Taylor, C. A., and Tucker, J. K. 2005. New distributional records for Illinois crayfishes (Decapoda: Cambaridae) with comments on the continued spread of non-native species. Transactions of the Illinois Academy of Science 98:75-80.
Taylor, C.A., G.A. Schuster, and D.B. Wylie. 2015. Field guide to crayfishes of the Midwest. Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, IL.
Walls, J.G. 2009. Crawfishes of Louisiana. Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, LA.
This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.