A Talk on the Wild Side.
Lagniappe crawfish. Photo by Susan Adams/U.S. Forest Service
Crawfish vs Crayfish: What’s the difference anyway? An expert once said you study crayfish, and you eat crawfish. So we'll refer to them as crayfish in this story.
Of the nearly 500 species of crayfish found in the world, approximately 350 are found in the United States, that’s nearly 70 percent of the world’s crayfish fauna - most of which is concentrated in the Southeast. Crayfish can be found in a variety of habitats from streams, lakes, and rivers, to springs, swamps and even underground caves. Crayfish that live entirely underground are referred to as troglobitic species. Lacking the benefits of the sun, troglobitic species lack any external pigmentation and tend to be white (mostly translucent) and blind. Although the ecological benefits of crayfish are vastly unknown, we do know that they serve as the primary food source for numerous fish and bird species as well as most mammals that forage around water. They tend to be very hardy animals that can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions.
Alabama may very well harbor the greatest diversity of crayfishes in the country. Currently, there are an estimated 93 different species (and growing annually) reported within Alabama, which slightly exceeds Georgia and Tennessee. In fact, the first statewide inventory was completed in 2006, and identified an astounding 85 species.
Learn more about what our Alabama Ecological Service Field Office is doing to build partnerships and conserve aquatic species in the state: http://bit.ly/2c7ZY4L