Procambarus acutus acutus
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Water Tolerances
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Social Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Procambarus acutus acutus (Girard, 1852)
Other Scientific Names
- Astacus Blandingii LeConte, 1856
- Cambarus (Cambarus) blandingi acutus Ortmann, 1905
- Cambarus (Cambarus) blandingii acutus Fleming, 1938
- Cambarus (Ortmannicus) blandingii acutus Fowler, 1912
- Cambarus (Ortmannicus) evictus Lyle, 1938
- Cambarus acutus var. A Hagen, 1870
- Cambarus acutus var. B Hagen, 1870
- Cambarus blandingi acutis Roberts, 1944
- Cambarus blandingi acutus Ortmann, 1905
- Cambarus blandingiacutus Harmon, 1910
- Cambarus blandingii
- Cambarus blandingii acutus Faxon, 1890
- Cambarus blandingii blandingii
- Cambarus blandingii var. acuta Hay, 1891
- Cambarus Blandingii, var. acuta Faxon, 1884
- Cambarus stygius Bundy, 1876
- Cambarus Stygius Underwood, 1886
- Camborus blandingii acutus Williamson, 1899
- Ortmannicus blandingi acutus Rhoades, 1942
- Procambarus (Ortmanicus) acutus acutus Hobbs III, Thorp and Anderson, 1976
- Procambarus (Ortmannicus) actus actus Payne and Riley, 1974
- Procambarus (Ortmannicus) acutus acutus (Girard, 1852)
- Procambarus actus Comeaux, 1976
- Procambarus acutus
- Procambarus acutus acustus Chea, Avault and Graves, 1979
- Procambarus blandingii acutus Hobbs, 1942
- Procambarus blandingii blandingii
- Procambasrus acutus acutus Huner, 1977
International Common Names
- English: eastern white river crayfish
Local Common Names
- Netherlands: gestreepte Amerikaanse rivierkreeft
- USA: white river crayfish
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
If compared with the congeneric Procambarus clarkii, P. acutus acutus’ biology and ecology is understudied, notwithstanding its relatively wide range of distribution across the USA. It is excluded from the available alert lists but, using the FI-ISK tool (http://www.cefas.co.uk/4200.aspx), it has been classified as a high-risk species (Tricarico et al., 2009). Published studies have mostly focused on cultivated populations and have been conducted in the laboratory or in artificial ponds. No information is available about the ecology of natural populations. As a consequence, the environmental impacts of the introduced populations in California, Kentucky, and New England are unknown and may be only inferred from its biological similarity with P. clarkii. P. acutus acutus, being an r-selected species and a generalist/opportunistic feeder, is expected to exercise a strong impact on communities and ecosystems. Its ability to reduce native crayfish diversity might be high. In fact, it is a vector of parasites and diseases, and is likely dominant over other species in the competition for the access of vital resources, such as shelter and food.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Crustacea
- Class: Malacostraca
- Subclass: Eumalacostraca
- Order: Decapoda
- Suborder: Reptantia
- Unknown: Astacoidea
- Family: Cambaridae
- Genus: Procambarus
- Species: Procambarus acutus acutus
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
The taxonomic status of the so-called “white river crayfish” is confusing. According to Dr Horton H. Hobbs Jr., Procambarus acutus is a species complex (Hobbs, 1989). The species previously identified as P. acutus acutus in the coastal plains of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in the 1970s and 1980s (as reported by Huner, 1988) was classified by Hobbs and Hobbs (1990) as a new species, Procambarus zonangulus (southern white river crayfish). The name of P. acutus acutus continues to apply to the “eastern white river crayfish” occurring naturally and being cultured eastwards from Louisiana to the Atlantic coast northward to Maine. The Mexican Procambarus (Ortmannicus) a. cuevachicae (synonym: Procambarus blandingii cuevachicae) has been designated as another subspecies of P.acutus (Hobbs, 1967). The extensive translocation of P. acutus acutus for aquaculture purposes and live fish bait makes the native distribution of the “white river crayfish” confusing. To make the matter worse, there are other species, all very similar in physical appearance, that are referred to as “white river crayfish” in the south-central USA, such as Procambarus neuches (Huner, 2002).
DescriptionTop of page
General description: Rostrum acuminate; cervical spine present; areola narrow with about 2-3 punctations in narrowest part; chela elongate, punctate, with row of prominent tubercles along mesial margin of palm; male first pleopod terminating in 4 elements, all directed caudodistally, distal part not tapered, bearing tuft of subapical setae on distinct, cephalodistally situated knob near base of cephalic process; hooks on ischia of male 3rd and 4th pereiopods. [Total length to 110 mm; width to 20 mm; weight to 80 g].
Diagnostic characteristics: Male with hooks on ischia of 3rd and 4th pereopods; first pleopod with tuft of subapical setae borne on distinct knob situated laterodistally near base of cephalic process.
DistributionTop of page
Complete and accurate range of distribution is lacking because of the still existing taxonomic confusion between the eastern and the southern white river crayfish. P. acutus acutus’ natural range encompasses more than half of the US, being widely distributed and tolerant of a great range of habitats although not found locally in abundance. In the Cumberland Plateau it occurs in tributaries of the Tennessee River eastward to Sequatchie Valley in Alabama and lower tributaries of the Black Warrior and probably Sipsey (Tombigbee basin) River systems (Bouchard, 1974). Hobbs et al. (1976) documented it in the Savannah River Plant Park (on the Savannah River) in southwest South Carolina. In Alabama, it is known from all river systems in the state with the exception of the Cahaba, Tallapoosa, Perdido, and Chattahootchee River systems (Mirarchi et al., 2004; Schuster and Taylor, 2004; Schuster et al., 2008). In Kentucky, it occurs commonly in most aquatic habitats west of the lower Cumberland River and sporadically in the middle and lower Green River drainage; and is also known from several probably introduced populations, including the Pond Creek drainage in Jefferson County, from ponds in the Bluegrass Army Depot and Central Kentucky Wildlife Management Area in Madison County, and Minor Clark Fish State Hatchery in Rowan County (Taylor and Schuster, 2004). In Missouri, it occurs throughout the Lowland Faunal Region, penetrating a short distance into the adjacent Ozarks, and northward along the Mississippi River flood plain to Clark County; with isolated populations along the Chariton River in Schuyler County and the Grand River in Livingston County (Pflieger, 1996). In Kansas, it occurs in one locality in Cherokee County (Ghedotti, 1998). In Ohio it is believed to have entered in the northwest corner postglacially by migrating across swampy glacial plains and it is now well documented in the northwest portion of the state and is likely throughout the Maumee, Portage and Sandusky basins as well as the Grand River (Thoma and Jezerinac, 2000). In Indiana, it is limited to lowland streams in the Patoka River drainage in Pike and Dubois counties (Simon et al., 2005). This species was recently added to the fauna of West Virginia based on six specimens collected east of Point Pleasant, Mason County in vernal pools (Loughman, 2007). Recently it was found at several sites in the Catawba River and tributaries in North Carolina and extending into South Carolina to the Wateree drainage (Alderman, 2005). In South Carolina, it occurs throughout much of the coastal plain and piedmont (Eversole and Jones, 2004). It has been introduced into southern New England but it is restricted to an area extending from the Blackstone River drainage system eastward through all the southeastern coastal drainage systems, including Cape Cod but not north of the Charles River basin; with populations outside this range in the Spicket River in Methuen (Merrimack River drainage), a few tributaries in the Northampton and Amherst vicinity (Connecticut River drainage), and the Millers River in Ashburnham (Connecticut River drainage); all in Massachusetts (Smith, 2000).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
IntroductionsTop of page
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
There is no reason to suspect that it could not become successfully established outside the USA. This may occur as bulk shipments of Procambarus spp. are made to areas where attempts are being made to develop crayfish aquaculture. We only know about the attempt to introduce the white river crayfish (possibly, P. zonangulus) into the rice fields of Lower Gauadalquivir in the province of Seville (Spain), together with P. clarkii. For unknown reasons, the white river crayfish did not prosper whereas P. clarkii did so (Gutiérrez-Yurrita et al., 1999). On the contrary, the introduction of P. acutus (or P. zonangulus) in Egypt and in the Netherlands was successful.
HabitatTop of page
P. acutus acutus is widely tolerant in most lentic situations and in sluggish streams. In Missouri, it is most often found in sloughs, marshes, and natural lakes along the flood plains of streams (70% from standing water, 19% from ditches, 11% from small to medium sized streams, 0% from open channels of rivers) (Pflieger, 1996). In West Virginia, it is found in ephemeral wetland habitats whereas in Illinois it was collected primarily from sluggish streams (Loughman, 2007).
The species constructs simple shallow burrows, to which crayfish of all sizes, whether mature or immature, male or female, retreat to reproduce and survive temporary dry periods, occupying them for 3-4 months or more (Huner and Barr, 1991). Crayfish may use atmospheric oxygen to breathe, provided gills remain moist. Burrows consist of simple vertical shafts 30–40 cm deep ending in an enlarged cul-de-sac. Five 15 cm-high chimneys may be present at the entrances of burrows.
Habitat ListTop of page
|Irrigation channels||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
|Rivers / streams||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Ponds||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Ponds||Present, no further details||Productive/non-natural|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
See Taylor and Hardman (2002) for studies on cytochrome oxidase I sequencing of this species.
Little is known about P. acutus acutus’ natural diet, except that it is an opportunistic and generalistic feeder, immature forms being more so. Whole body lipid content of females sampled from culture ponds found to be significantly greater than males with the proportion of lipids in adults varying through the culture cycle with the lowest lipid levels occurring in crayfish sampled after pond reflooding (Eversole et al., 1999).
Based on their distribution in North America, the eastern white river crayfish is classified as a temperate species; however, aquaculturists generally regard it as having traits normally associated with a warm-water species, similarly to P. clarkii. Nothing is known about its environmental requirements in natural conditions. In cultivation ponds of South Carolina, it was shown that the mortality of P. acutus acutus at warmer water temperatures of spring and autumn is 10 times that experienced at colder temperatures in the winter but that its growth rate is faster in the warmer water temperatures than in the colder water temperatures.
ClimateTop of page
|C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate||Preferred||Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C|
Water TolerancesTop of page
|Parameter||Minimum Value||Maximum Value||Typical Value||Status||Life Stage||Notes|
|Salinity (part per thousand)||Optimum||<6 tolerated|
|Water pH (pH)||Optimum||6.5-8.5 tolerated|
Natural enemiesTop of page
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Natural enemies may be parasites/diseases, predators, and competitors. P. acutus acutus is known to be infected by the parasitic worm Alloglossidium dolandi (Turner, 2007, 2009) and Alloglossoides caridicola (Trematode, Digenea) (Turner, 2000). However, the effects of these parasites are unlikely to impact P. a. acutus’ populations. Other diseases and parasites are identical to those known to affect P. clarkii, including the White Spot Syndrome Virus, the fungus-like Aphanomyces astaci, and Microsporida. No information is available about predators. P. clarkii is a potential competitor of P. acutus acutus since they sometimes coexist and share the same limiting resources, such as food and shelter. P. clarkii can also prey on P. acutus acutus (and vice versa). However, the factors that govern the relative abundance of the two species are not fully understood. On one hand, the eastern white river crayfish produces larger (but fewer) eggs than P. clarkii (and thus larger juveniles) (Mazlum and Eversole, 2005), has a faster growth rate (Mazlum and Eversole, 2005), possesses larger chelae, and can attain larger sizes than P. clarkii (Huner, 1988), particularly at cooler temperatures. It is a highly aggressive species (Gherardi and Daniels, 2003). Size differences may be providing a competitive advantage in aggressive interactions. On the other hand, a laboratory experiment showed that P. clarkii dominates over P. acutus acutus of similar size in competition experiments (Gherardi and Daniels, 2004). Additionally, the frequently spawning P. clarkii generates more recruits than does P. acutus acutus.
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
P. acutus acutus has been introduced intentionally into California and New England for aquaculture purposes and/or as a live bait. The possibility remains that it has been moved unintentionally as a contaminant of P. clarkii’s stocks. Nothing is known about the time of introduction. Natural dispersal may occur within the same basin but nothing is known about its migration ability.
Pathway CausesTop of page
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
ImpactTop of page
There are no experimental studies analyzing the impacts of P. acutus acutus. We can infer the impacts on the basis of its biology and the similarities between this species and P. clarkii.
Economic ImpactTop of page
P. acutus acutus is cultivated in some states of the USA, e.g. in South Carolina. Particularly in the southeastern United States, the yield potential for this species with a single recruitment wave is less than for P. clarkii with multiple recruitment waves. However, experimentation is underway in both South Carolina and Delaware to make its production competitive. A study that used a two-stage dynamic-stochastic simulation modeling framework suggested that farming of eastern white river crayfish in the mid-Atlantic region year-round is economically feasible (Hasegawa et al., 1999).
Environmental ImpactTop of page
No studies have focused on the environmental impact exerted by P. acutus acutus. We may infer that environmental impacts may be high both when it is the only crayfish species in the ecosystem of introduction and also when other crayfish species are present (see Gherardi, 2007 for a general discussion on the impacts of alien crayfish). These effects are due to the high fecundity, fast growth rate, competitive ability, and feeding habits of the species. Biodiversity may decrease due to the potential of hybridization with congeneric species (to be proven), to compete for food or space (e.g. with P. clarkii), to prey on macroinvertebrates including snails, as well as on fishes and amphibians (to be proven), to consume macrophytes (to be proven), and to be vector of parasites.
Social ImpactTop of page
No social impact is known. The possibility exists that this species might be a vector of parasites and diseases that might affect commercial species, as occurred in Europe with the transmission, by the North American crayfish species (e.g. Pacifastacus leniusculus and P. clarkii), of the crayfish plague to the native species, and in particular, to the commercial species Astacus astacus (Gherardi, 2007).
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Has a broad native range
- Abundant in its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Is a habitat generalist
- Capable of securing and ingesting a wide range of food
- Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
- Fast growing
- Has high reproductive potential
- Pest and disease transmission
- Rapid growth
- Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
- Highly likely to be transported internationally illegally
- Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
- Difficult to identify/detect in the field
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page
Uses ListTop of page
Animal feed, fodder, forage
- Sport (hunting, shooting, fishing, racing)
Human food and beverage
- Meat/fat/offal/blood/bone (whole, cut, fresh, frozen, canned, cured, processed or smoked)
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
The white river crayfish is similar in appearance to P. clarkii, especially at a young age. As the common names suggest, adults of the white river crayfish are off-white to tan, whereas the adult P. clarkii is red. However, colour alone is not a definitive distinguishing characteristic, particularly in immature individuals. The chelae of adult white river crayfish are more elongated and narrow than those of adult P. clarkii. The areola, or space on the dorsal surface where the two halves of the carapace meet is wider on white river crayfish. The white river crayfish lacks the dark stripe on the underside of the tail or abdomen that is a distinguishing characteristic of P. clarkii.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
No attempts have ever been made to manage introduced populations of P. acutus acutus. Most efforts should be directed to developing detection and inspection methods, diagnosis, and prevention (including SPS measures, early warning system, rapid response, and public awareness). Risk assessment protocols should be developed to quantify the magnitude of the impact of this potential invaders on the recipient ecosystems (Tricarico et al., 2009). However, this exercise requires a deeper knowledge of the biology of the species than is available today. Meanwhile, since scientific certainty about the alien species’ impacts is lacking, a “precautionary approach” should be applied to avoid potentially serious or irreversible harms to the environment. The story of the several attempts to control P. leniusculus and P. clarkii in Europe tells us that, once an alien crayfish has been introduced into natural water bodies, the probability of eradicating or controlling their invasive populations is low. Once the species has formed established populations in the wild, mechanical methods, biological control with indigenous predators, and the use of the sterile male release technique (Aquiloni et al., 2009a, b) might be adopted. The likelihood of unintentional introductions through merchandise imports could be reduced through more strict control procedures.
Gaps in Knowledge/Research NeedsTop of page
There are very few publications about the biology and ecology of P. acutus acutus. Studies have mostly focused on problems associated with the species’ cultivation and were conducted in the laboratory or in artificial ponds. Our knowledge about the environmental and social impacts of the species is practically absent.
ReferencesTop of page
Aquiloni L; Brusconi S; Cecchinelli E; Tricarico E; Mazza G; Paglianti A; Gherardi F, 2009. Biological control of invasive populations of crayfish: the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) as a predator of Procambarus clarkii. Biological Invasions, 12:3817-3824.
Bouchard RW, 1974. Geography and ecology of crayfishes of the Cumberland Plateau and Cumberland Mountains, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. Part I. The genera Procambarus and Orconectes. Freshwater Crayfish, 2:563-584.
Ghedotti MJ, 1998. An annotated list of the crayfishes of Kansas with first records of Orconectes macrus and Procambarus acutus in Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science, 101(1-2):54-57.
Gherardi F, 2007. Understanding the impact of invasive crayfish. In: Biological invaders in inland waters: profiles, distribution, and threats [ed. by Gherardi F] Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer, 507-542.
Gutiérrez-Yurrita PJ; Martínez JM; Bravo-Utrera MA; Montes C; Ilhéu M; Bernardo JM, 1999. The status of crayfish populations in Spain and Portugal. In: Crayfish in Europe as alien species. How to make the best of a bad situation? [ed. by Gherardi F, Holdich DM] Rotterdam, Netherlands: A.A. Balkema, 161-192.
Hasegawa AC; Gempesaw CM; Daniels WH; Petrosky BR, 1999. Simulating the economic viability of crawfish production: a two-stage approach. In: Proceedings of the 1999 Winter Simulation Conference [ed. by Farrington PA, Nembhard HB, Sturrock DT, Evans GW] New York, : Association for Computing Machinery.
Hobbs HHIII; Thorp JH; ; erson GE, 1976. The freshwater decapod crustaceans (Palaemonidae, Cambaridae) of the Savannah River Plant, South Carolina. Publication of the Savannah River Plant National Environmental Research Park Program, Savannah, Georgia., 63 pp.
Hobbs Jr HH, 1989. An illustrated checklist of the American crayfishes (Decapoda: Astacidae, Cambaridae, and Parastacidae). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology. Washington DC, : Smithsonian Institution Press, iii + 236 pp.
Ibrahim AM; Magdy TK; Murbarak MF, 1997. Ecological studies on the exotic crayfishes, Procambarus clarkii and Procambarus zonangulus in the River Nile, Egypt. International Journal of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 23:217-228.
Mazlum Y; Can MF; Eversole AG, 2007. Morphometric relationship of length-weight and chelae length-width of eastern white river crayfish (Procambarus acutus acutus, Girard, 1852), under culture conditions. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 23(5):616-620. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/loi/jai
Mazlum Y; Eversole AG, 2005. Growth and survival of Procambarus acutus acutus (Girard, 1852) and P. clarkii (Girard, 1852) in competitive settings. Aquaculture Research, 36(6):537-545. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/servlet/useragent?func=showIssues&code=are
Mirarchi RE; Bailey MA; Garner JT; Haggerty TM; Best TL; Mettee MF; O'Neil P, 2004. Alabama Wildlife. Volume Four: Conservation and Management Recommendations for Imperiled Wildlife. Tuscaloosa, Alabama, : University of Alabama Press, 221 pp.
Schuster GA; Taylor CA, 2004. Report on the crayfishes of Alabama: literature and museum database review, species list with abbreviated annotations and proposed conservation statuses. Illinois Natural History Survey Technical Report., 47 pp.
Simon TP; Weisheit M; Seabrook E; Freeman L; Johnson S; Englum L; Jorck KW; Abernathy M; Simon TP IV, 2005. Notes on Indiana crayfish (Decapoda: Cambaridae) with comments on distribution, taxonomy, life history, and habitat. Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Science, 114(1):55-61. http://www.indianaacademyofscience.org
Taylor CA; Hardman M, 2002. Phylogenetics of the crayfish subgenus Crockerinus, genus Orconectes (Decapoda: Cambaridae), based on cytochrome oxidase I. J. Crust. Biol, 22(4):874-881.
Taylor CA; Schuster GA; Cooper JE; DiStefano RJ; Eversole AG; Hamr P; Hobbs IIIHH; Robison HW; Skelton CE; Thoma RF, 2007. A reassessment of the conservation status of crayfishes of the United States and Canada after 10+ years of increased awareness. Fisheries, 32(8):373-389.
Turner HM, 2007. New hosts, distribution, and prevalence records for Alloglossidium dolandi (Digenea: Macroderoididae), a parasite of procambarid crayfish, within the coastal plains of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, U.S.A. Comparative Parasitology, 74(1):148-150. http://www.bioone.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1654%2F4270.1
Turner HM, 2009. Additional distribution and prevalence records for Alloglossidium dolandi (Digenea: Macroderoididae) and a comparison with the distribution of Alloglossidium caridicolum, parasites of Procambarid crayfish, within the coastal plains of the Southeastern United States. Comparative Parasitology, 76(2):283-286.
CABI, Undated. CABI Compendium: Status inferred from regional distribution. Wallingford, UK: CABI
CABI, Undated a. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI
Ibrahim A M, Magdy T K, Murbarak M F, 1997. Ecological studies on the exotic crayfishes, Procambarus clarkii and Procambarus zonangulus in the River Nile, Egypt. International Journal of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. 217-228.
Taylor C A, Schuster G A, Cooper J E, DiStefano R J, Eversole A G, Hamr P, Hobbs H H III, Robison H W, Skelton C E, Thoma R F, 2007. A reassessment of the conservation status of crayfishes of the United States and Canada after 10+ years of increased awareness. Fisheries. 32 (8), 373-389.
ContributorsTop of page
06/10/09 Original text by:
Francesca Gherardi, Dipartimento di Biologia Evoluzionistica, Università di Firenze, Via Romana 17, Firenze, Italy
Distribution MapsTop of page
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