Cambarus (Cambarus) bartonii (Fabricius 1798)
(Appalachian brook crayfish)

Cambarus bartonii (photographed by Aimee Fullerton, NCWRC)

General information
Distribution map

National Range: “New Brunswick, Canada, to northern Georgia, and eastern parts of Kentucky and Tennessee to the Atlantic Ocean; restricted to the mountains and foothills in South Carolina and Georgia” (Hobbs 1989); “Blue ridge, Ridge, and Valley provinces, Tennessee” (Williams and Bivens 1996).

NC Physiographic Region(s): Blue ridge province and western piedmont; limits of range unclear

River Basin(s): New, Watauga, French Broad, Little Tennessee, Hiwassee, upper Broad, upper Catawba, upper Yadkin-Pee Dee, upper Roanoke

Adult Habitat: “mostly lotic habitats, but occasionally frequenting ponds and often burrowing along streams and in seepage areas” (Hobbs Jr. 1989); “small to medium size Blue Ridge streams (…up to 1,180 meters elevation)…” (Williams and Bivens 1996); “Waters ranging from springs to medium sized streams and lentic environments. More common in springs and smaller streams. Troglophile. Tertiary burrower.” (Bouchard 1974b); “seems to prefer running water; but can be found in burrows in riparian areas, almost always in contact with stream bed” (NHP ICAS 1999); fast-flowing, clear water; all substrates but mostly under rocks (larger crayfish under larger rocks)

Juvenile Habitat: all substrates including stream centers under small rocks and along edges in debris

Reproductive Season: late summer, fall

Species associates: many

Conservation status: not protected

Identification references: Hobbs Jr. 1989, Hobbs Jr. 1991, Jezerinac et al. 1995

Taxonomic Description:

body shape: slightly dorsoventrally flattened
coloration:  variable but many dark in color (shades of brown), mostly solid coloration but some with saddle pattern and mottling
spines: cervical spines absent but may be cervical tubercle(s); branchiostegal spines weak (if present); cephalic spine or tubercle absent
rostrum: short, blunt, with parallel margins; no marginal spines; acumen small (barely recognizable); corneous tubercle at apex; rounded or squared in shape; possibly excavate or ladel-like dorsally
areola: medium in width
chelae: generally smooth and large; with one row of 5-7 adpressed tubercles along mesial margin of palm; moderately developed dorsolongitudinal ridges on fingers; slight pinch both dorsally and ventrally at base of fixed finger; absense of setae between fingers; fingers gaping in large adults (particularly form I males)
other characteristics: eyes somewhat small; suborbital angle acute or nearly so; tuberculate carapace
form I male gonopod: terminal elements short; corneous central projection truncated and with subapical notch; mesial process and central projections with  space between them (shaped like crescent wrench); mesial process bulbous and tapering to point
Notes:  likely a species complex containing multiple species; wide variation in characteristics; several proposed subspecies (C. b. bartonii, C. b. cavatus, C. b. carnirostris) – much contention exists about whether these deserve recognition or are only local variations.; “…R.F. Thoma at Ohio State University will soon be publishing on the taxonomic status of this complex” (NHP ICAS 1999)

Conservation Status

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