Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Arkansas
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Arkansas Project

The Imperiled Coldwater Crayfish (Orconectes eupunctus) in the Black River Drainage of Missouri and Arkansas: Distribution, Population Genetics and Factors Affecting Distribution and Decline.

July 2010 - May 2013


Participating Agencies

  • Missouri Department of Conservation

This proposed project addresses uncertainties associated with conservation status designations in Missouri (and Arkansas), as well as the decline of a species currently designated as imperiled. MDC frequently uses conservation status designations listed in Missouri Species and Communities of Conservation Concern (MSOCC; Missouri Natural Heritage Program 2009) to drive management and policy decisions, and to advise cooperating state and federal agencies in their management and policy decisions. However, MSOCC crayfish designations are largely based upon insufficient or nonexistent distribution, abundance and population genetics data. One example is the imperiled coldwater crayfish (Orconectes eupunctus); a species for which no distribution or population genetics studies have been conducted. Recently the coldwater crayfish has also been eliminated from a significant portion of its range in Missouri and Arkansas. We propose to estimate the distribution of the coldwater crayfish, determine the extent of gene flow among the known populations, and assess phylogeographic patterns for the species to enable an accurate assessment of its conservation status. We also propose to determine factors that may be affecting the observed distribution and densities of coldwater crayfish. Study results will enable MDC and other agencies to base conservation management and policy decisions on sound data, and identify factors associated with the decline of this species, which will lead to identification of conservation/management alternatives.