Appalachian Crayfish, Cambarus bartonii
OTHER COMMON NAMES
Common crayfish, Appalachian brook crayfish
Cambarus from kammaros: lobster (Greek) + bartonii: patronym of Barton, possibly the American botanist Benjamin Smith Barton (1766-1815)
Ecology, Habitat, & Behavior
Because Appalachian crayfish live in faster flowing water with more variable water levels, their growth is much slower and more episodic than other crayfish species. This allows them to cope with unpredictable periods of stress and take advantage of periods with better conditions (source). While their range overlaps with the congeneric (in the same genus) big water crayfish, their distributions are almost entirely non-overlapping. In contests between individuals of similar, big water crayfish always were the more aggressive and pushed out. Where the two species have come intact, Appalachian crayfish are being displaced (source).
They live in faster flowing streams and tend to hunker down in shallow burrows under larger boulders. But in siltier environments, they’re also capable of building more extensive burrows with lateral chambers capped with short (1-2 inch tall) chimneys. One facsinating paper reported on a lone juvenile Appalachian crayfish overwintering in a leaf pack in an upland depression with a small cluster of red-backed salamanders (source). Potentially because they are not farmed and have no commercial significance, they are an understudied species.