Procambarus acutus acutus
Procambarus acutus acutus
(White River Crawfish)
Native Transplant
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Procambarus acutus acutus (Girard, 1852)

Common name: White River Crawfish

Synonyms and Other Names: Procambarus acutus is a species complex (Hobbs 1989). Procambarus zonangulus and P. acutus cuevachicae are distinct species that were formerly grouped with P. acutus (Taylor and Schuster 2004).

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Body color is dark red with a black wedge on dorsal abdomen (Taylor and Schuster 2004). Body color can vary; smaller individuals can be brown with mottled spots (Taylor and Schuster 2004). Chelae possess numerous white tubercles and small tubercles cover the carapace (Taylor and Schuster 2004; Taylor et al. 2015). Procambarus acutus has long, narrow chelae with no space between dactyl and propodus when closed (Taylor and Schuster 2004). Areola is open, but narrow (Walls 2009). Procambarus acutus is often confused with P. clarkii, but there are distinct morphological differences, including a more open areola on P. acutus than on P. clarkii (Larson and Olden 2011). Without crayfish identification experience, P. acutus is indistinguishable from P. zonangulus (Swecker et al. 2010). Procambarus zonangulus has tapered gonopods, while P. acutus gonopods are a constant width (Walls 2009). In most P. zonangulus the ventral surface of the chelae is whitish, while they are a uniform color in P. acutus (Walls 2009).

Size: Can be up to 13 cm total length (Taylor and Schuster 2004).

Native Range: Procambarus acutus has a disjunct native distribution which includes the Atlantic Slope, as well as the southern Great Lakes drainages to the Gulf of Mexico (Hobbs 1989; Taylor and Schuster 2004). On the Atlantic Slope, P. acutus occurs from Maine to Georgia (Taylor and Schuster 2004). Procambarus acutus also occurs from southern Wisconsin and Michigan through Kentucky and Missouri to western Texas and the Florida panhandle (Hobbs 1989; Taylor and Schuster 2004).

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Nonindigenous Occurrences: Found in eastern Alabama in the Middle Chattahoochee-Walter F, Middle Coosa, Patsaliga, Sepulga, and Upper Choctawhatchee drainages (Illinois Natural History Survey 2017). Collected in northern Arkansas in the Beaver Reservoir, Cache, Frog-Mulberry, Illinois, Little Red, Middle White, Spring, and Strawberry drainages (Illinois Natural History Survey 2017). Introduced in the San Luis Rey-Escondido drainage in California and the Big Thompson drainage in Colorado (Bouchard 1977; Illinois Natural History Survey 2017). Collected in the Housatonic drainage in Connecticut and the Myakka and Blackwater drainages in Florida (Beauchene 2011; GBIF 2013). Found in western Georgia in the Broad, Lower Ocmulgee, St. Marys, and Upper Flint drainages (Hobbs 1981; Skelton 2010). Collected in the Highland-Pigeon drainage in Indiana (Illinois Natural History Survey 2017). Found in Kentucky in the Barren, Highland-Pigeon, Licking, Lower Cumberland, Lower Kentucky, Lower Green, Middle Green, Rough, and Salt drainages (Taylor and Schuster 2004; Illinois Natural History Survey 2017). Found in Maryland in the Lower Potomac, Monocacy, Patuxent, and Youghiogheny drainages (Swecker et al. 2010). Collected throughout Missouri in the Blackwater, Current, Harry S. Truman Reservoir, James, Lake of the Ozarks, Little Osage, Lower Grand, Lower Marais Des Cygnes, Lower Missouri-Moreau, South Grand, Spring, Tarkio-Wolf, Upper Black, Upper Chariton, Upper Grand, and Upper St. Francis drainages (DiStefano et al. 2015; Illinois Natural History Survey 2017). Found in the Lower Hudson, Oak Orchard-Twelvemile, and Seneca drainages in New York (Mills et al. 1996; M. Caldwell, pers. comm.; S. Smith, pers. comm.). Found in North Carolina in the Fishing, Lower Yadkin, Pigeon, Upper Cape Fear, Upper Neuse, Upper Tar, and Watauga, North Carolina, Tennessee drainages and the Illinois and Lower Canadian-Deer drainages in Oklahoma (Cooper 2002; Illinois Natural History Survey 2017). Collected in the Allegheny, Conococheague-Opequon, Lower Susquehanna, Lower Susquehanna-Swatara, Mahoning, Schuylkill, Shenango, and Upper Ohio-Beaver drainages in Pennsylvania (iMapInvasives 2016; Illinois Natural History Survey 2017; Pennsylvania iMap Invasives 2017; K. Kelly, pers. comm.). Found in the Lake Washington and San Juan Islands drainages in Washington (Illinois Natural History Survey 2017; C. Taylor, pers. comm.). Collected in Wisconsin in the Milwaukee drainage and in West Virginia in the Lower Kanawha and Raccoon-Symmes drainages (Loughman 2007; GBIF 2013). State non-specific locations reported by Hobbs (1989) in Massachusetts and Maine.

Ecology: Mating occurs in early spring and fall with egg laying occurring in spring (Taylor and Schuster 2004). Procambarus acutus will burrow during dry summer and fall seasons (Taylor and Schuster 2004). Females with eggs may burrow to hide (Page 1985). While Hobbs (1989) reports P. acutus in slow to moderate flow streams, this species is also found in a variety of habitats, including rivers, ditches, creeks, and swamps (Taylor and Schuster 2004). Page (1985) reports P. acutus as a deep water species.

Means of Introduction: Probable bait bucket or aquaculture introductions with the California introduction occurring as a laboratory release (Bouchard 1977; Taylor and Schuster 2004).

Status: Established in Alabama (Illinois Natural History Survey 2017), Arkansas (Illinois Natural History Survey 2017), Georgia (Hobbs 1981; Skelton 2010), Indiana (Illinois Natural History Survey 2017), Kentucky (Taylor and Schuster 2004), Maryland (Swecker et al. 2010), Missouri (Illinois DiStefano et al. 2015; Natural History Survey 2017), North Carolina (Cooper 2002; Illinois Natural History Survey 2017), New York (Mills et al. 1996; M. Caldwell, pers. comm.), Pennsylvania (K. Kelly, pers. comm.), Wisconsin (GBIF 2013), and West Virginia (Loughman 2007). Failed in California (Bouchard 1977), Colorado (Illinois Natural History Survey 2017), Connecticut (Beauchene 2011), Florida (GBIF 2013), and Oklahoma (Illinois Natural History Survey 2017). Unknown in Massachusetts and Maine (Hobbs 1989). Unknown in Washington, but most likely failed as no additional collections have been made since 2010 (Larson and Olden 2011).

Impact of Introduction: Unknown. However, DiStefano et al. (2015) reported that P. acutus may displace native crayfish.

Remarks: Procambarus acutus is an economically important crayfish used in aquaculture and as bait (Taylor and Schuster 2004).

References: (click for full references)

Beauchene, M. 2011. Crayfish distribution project. Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Bureau of Water Protection and Land Reuse, Hartford, CT. Accessed on 09/18/2017.

Bouchard, R.W. 1977. Distribution, systematic status and ecological notes on five poorly known species of crayfish in western North America (Decapoda: Astacidae and Cambaridae). Freshwater Crayfish 3:409-423.

Cooper, J.E. 2002. North Carolina crayfishes (Decapoda: Cambaridae): Notes on distribution, taxonomy, life history, and habitat. Journal of the North Carolina Academy of Science 118(3):167-180.

DiStefano, R. J., E.M. Imhoff, D.A. Swedberg, and T.C. Boersig III. 2015. An analysis of suspected crayfish invasions in Missouri, USA: evidence for the prevalence of short-range translocations and support for expanded survey efforts. Management of Biological Invasions 6(4):395-411.

GBIF. 2013. Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Database. Global Biodiversity Information Facility. Accessed on 09/18/2017.

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. 1981. The crayfishes of Georgia. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 318:1-549.

Illinois Natural History Survey. 2017. Illinois Natural History Survey Collection Databases. Illinois Natural History Survey.
Accessed on 08/15/2017.

iMapInvasives. 2016. Pennsylvania iMapInvasives. Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, Pittsburgh, PA. Accessed on 09/18/2017.

Larson, E.R., and J.D. Olden. 2011. The state of crayfish in the Pacific Northwest. Fisheries 36(2):60-73.

Loughman, Z. 2007. First record of Procambarus (Ortmannicus) acutus (White River crayfish) in West Virginia, with notes on its natural history. Northeastern Naturalist 14(3):495-500.

Mills, E.L., D.L. Strayer, M.D. Scheuerell, and J.T. Carlton. 1996. Exotic species in the Hudson River basin: A history of invasions and introductions. Estuaries 19(4):814-823.

Page, L.M. 1985. The crayfishes and shrimps (Decapoda) of Illinois. Volume 33. State of Illinois Department of Energy and Natural Resources, Champaign, IL.

Pennsylvania iMap Invasives. 2017. Invertebrates. Accessed on 09/29/2017.

Skelton, C.E. 2010. History, status, and conservation of Georgia crayfishes. Southeastern Naturalist 9(3):127-138.

Swecker, C.D., T.D. Jones, J.V. Kilian, and L.F. Roberson. 2010. Key to the crayfish of Maryland. Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis, MD. Accessed on 09/18/2017.

Taylor, C.A., and G.A. Schuster. 2004. The crayfishes of Kentucky. Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, IL.

Taylor, C. A., G. A. Schuster, and D. B. Wylie. 2015. Field guide to crayfishes of the Midwest. Illinois Natural History Survey Manual 15, Champaign, IL.

Walls, J.G. 2009. Crawfishes of Louisiana. Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, LA.

Author: Durland Donahou, A.

Revision Date: 2/26/2018

Citation Information:
Durland Donahou, A., 2018, Procambarus acutus acutus (Girard, 1852): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL,, Revision Date: 2/26/2018, Access Date: 3/23/2018

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.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2018]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [3/23/2018].

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