Ohio Division of Wildlife- New species discovered in Ohio! Meet the blue crayfish.
A species of colorful crayfish has just been discovered living in eastern Ohio. Ohio researchers have been collecting crayfish in eastern Ohio searching for the blue crayfish (a.k.a. blue crawfish, Cambarus monongalensis) since 1975. On May 19th, an expedition lead by Laura S. Hughes found a small population of the species in Monroe County, Ohio. It is now Ohio’s most colorful crayfish — and possibly its rarest!
Researchers will now work to document the total range of the blue crayfish and determine its conservation status within Ohio. It only lives in hillside springs and seeps and is especially vulnerable to changes in groundwater conditions. Outside of Ohio, blue crayfish and related species are found in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. The Ohio River has long been a barrier to the dispersal of the species group, but it appears this population crossed into the Ohio area prior to Continental Glaciation and the formation of the Ohio River approximately 2 million years ago.
Congrats to all the researchers involved! The May 19, 2020 blue crayfish expedition was lead by Laura S. Hughes and included Dr. Zac Loughman (West Liberty University), Mael Glon (The Ohio State University), and Roger Thoma (MidWest Biodiversity Institute). Also assisting in the effort were Kelly Capuzzi (Ohio Environmental Protection Agency) and Heather Dame Glon (The Ohio State University).
Ms. Hughes had spent several years searching for the species in Ohio while conducting a citizen science project. After several false starts her persistence paid off with success.