This update is just to keep you all informed of how things are going and where we are up to as of the end of another financial year. Unfortunately, it’s now August, just too much happening, but better a late update than no update. Cheers Rob
Basin View Gardens win Academy Award
Paul Van der Werf of Earthan Group designed the integrated garden and then Paul and I built the Garden at RFBI Basin View Masonic Village back in December 2011. The gardens have central aquaculture tanks growing silver perch for food and gold fish for visual pleasure with the nutrient rich fish water being recirculated under the gardens to provide a nutrient source for the vegetables and flowers. Water flows constantly under the garden beds so the plants are self watered reducing the elderly residence’s maintenance requirements. The nutrient rich garden beds are raise so they are at a comfortable height, are narrow so easily reached from each side and set out in a maze type pattern so some memory required to navigate and locate your garden plot within the larger garden.
Since completion the gardens have flourished being the subject of praise from all quarters, and a number of scientific studies commissioned on the health benefits of the gardens for the Retirement Village Residents.
As a result of the these studies the latest good news is that the garden has been nominated for a prestigious International Academy of Design and Health Award. The International Academy for Design & Health is a global, interdisciplinary knowledge community dedicated to the stimulation and application of research concerning the interaction between design, health, science & culture. Luckily Brisbane was hosting the 9th Design & Health World Congress & Exhibition, from 10-14 July. Paul and I attended the Gala dinner and awards Ceremony being held at the Brisbane City Hall. It was my first time in the Brisbane City Hall which had just undergone it $215 million 3 year renovation.
Judging panels from across the global made their recommendations for this year’s winners, resulting in Paul’s gardens winning a Salutogenic Design Award. The criteria for this Award is for the design of a completed project of any typology, which is comprehensible, manageable and meaningful, thereby fostering a strong sense of coherence amongst its users that promotes their health and wellbeing. Submissions must show how environmental, social and economic sustainability is improved. The garden we built did all this resulting in the prestigious award. Well-done Paulie!
Euastacus urospinosus paper published
Paul and I have been researching a number of dwarf group crayfish and we are preparing a large number for publication over the coming months/years. The first in this series was recently published in the Memoirs of the Queensland Museum. The paper documents the extended distribution of E. Urospinosus to include rainforested streams draining both sides of the Conondale Range into the Mary and Brisbane Rivers. We document our survey results and records information on the species ecology and discuss it’s conservation status. This type of research that increases the knowledge base on crayfish species is essential, it gives our management agencies the science they need to make informed decisions and promotes the species conservation.
McCormack, R.B. & Van der Werf, P. 2013 06 30. The distribution, ecology and conservation status of Euastacus urospinosus (Crustacea: Decapoda: Parastacidae), a dwarf freshwater crayfish from the Mary and Brisbane River drainages, south-eastern Queensland. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum — Nature 56(2): 639–646. Brisbane. ISSN 0079–8835.
The Spiny Crayfish of Australia book has been nominated for a prestigious Whitley Award
The spiny cray book is selling nicely with lots of positive feedback. My thanks to the hundred or so people that have personally given me positive feedback. Only one winger so far, that was a bit disappointing but such is life. The book is designed to increase the profile of our Euastacus crayfish and raise awareness of the beauty and unique biodiversity of our Australian Freshwater Crayfish.
The book has been nominated for a prestigious Whitley Award. The Whitley Awards are awarded by the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales (RZSNSW). The Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales is a non-profit, scientific organisation dedicated to the study and conservation of native Australian fauna. Whitley awards are presented for outstanding publications, either printed or electronic, that contain new information about the fauna of the Australasian region. Fingers crossed that the book actually wins the award, there are some fantastic publications out there so lots of competition. Even if it doesn’t win it’s good to know that others appreciate the effort to create and the substance of the book and have nominated it.
Euastacus Dharawalus conservation paper published
Euastacus dharawalus is a rare and critically endangered giant spiny group crayfish from the Fitzroy Falls region of NSW. The Australian Crayfish Project (ACP) has been conducting studies on this species since 2006 when we first discovered invasive crayfish in the area. Since 2006 we have been extremely concerned with the future of this crayfish species and believe it may be the first Euastacus to become extinct. We have been writing this paper ever since and finally we have completed our studies and now the paper has been published by Journal of Crustacean Biology.
McCormack, R.B. 2013. Conservation of Imperiled Crayfish, Euastacus dharawalus (Decapoda: Astacidea: Parastacidae), from the southern highlands of New South Wales, Australia. Journal of Crustacean Biology, 33(3), 432-439, 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1937240X-00002138
I’m a member of the Crustacean Society who publishes The Journal of Crustacean Biology, and I recommend anyone interested in crustaceans join up www.thecrustaceansociety.org/ The mission of the Crustacean Society is to advance the study of all aspects of the biology of the Crustacea by promoting the exchange and dissemination of information throughout the world.
As a result of the ACP research the NSW Fisheries Scientific Committee, has made a final determination to list the Fitzroy Falls spiny crayfish, Euastacus dharawalus as a CRITICALLY ENDANGERED SPECIES. That’s the first Euastacus species to be listed as critically endangered by any state or the federal Government in Australia and a great win for the ACP.
New records and review of the translocation of the yabby Cherax destructor into eastern drainages of New South Wales, Australia is in press.
This is the second paper we have prepared on invasive Cherax destructor into eastern drainages of NSW. The original paper in 2009 documented 20 translocation sites. This new paper builds on the original and documents over 50 new translocation sites. Yabbies are a fantastic species when in their own environment but when they are translocated into new catchments they can have dramatic negative repercussions on the endemic species so become an ecological nightmare. The papers highlights the negative impacts on endemic crayfish species, it’s in press and should be published soon.
Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund Project Number 12054688.
The ACP has received a research grant from the Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund. The MBZSCF is a significant philanthropic endowment established to provide targeted grants to individual species conservation initiatives, recognize leaders in the field of species conservation and elevate the importance of species in the broader conservation debate field of species conservation http://www.speciesconservation.org/
We have received the grant to work on Euastacus clarkae from the upper Hastings River catchment of NSW. The aims of this Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation project are:
• To define the distribution of Euastacus clarkae
• Define its habitat requirements
• Increase the knowledge base on its biology and ecology
• Provide a taxonomic redescription of the species
• Determine its conservation status with recommendations for listing at a State/Federal level.
• Survey the whole Hastings River drainage to determine the distribution of all the Parastacidae species in the area
• Attempt to understand species interactions and habitat partitioning of the eight species occurring within the Hastings River catchment
The project is progressing well and with the assistance of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service we are now moving into the final stages of this project. . The location of this project is a World Heritage Area with much of it remote and inaccessible. The areas Gondwana Rainforests include extensive areas of subtropical rainforest, large areas of warm temperate rainforest and Antarctic beech cool temperate rainforest. It’s a fantastic area to conduct research but cold and wet at the moment. NSW NP&WS are assisting with accommodation in their research huts and providing access to the none public areas which makes live much easier. This is a huge project that will result in a number of papers and all those involved have been incredibly helpful and supportive and I’d like to take this opportunity to recognise and thank them. Frederick Schram & Mary Belk – The Crustacean Society. Nicolas Heard – Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund. Piers Thomas – National Parks and Wildlife Service. Shaun Morris – Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority. Thor Aaso – Port Macquarie-Hastings Council. For further information on this project go to: http://www.speciesconservation.org/case-studies-projects/clarks-crayfish/4688
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council Project 100062-2
Since March 2013 we have been biological surveying the coastal strip of the Port Macquarie-Hastings LGA. It’s been an interesting survey with a number of crayfish species being identified. Cherax cuspidatus is the predominant species with E. Dangadi, E. Spinifer and E. Reductus being found in the coastal mountain streams.
The project is entering the final stages with the final report in preparation and due for submission in October. This was a very important project that is fundamental to a number of further research projects. The Coastal strip of NSW has two endemic Genera of small freshwater crayfish (Gramastacus and Tenuibranchiurus). The ACP is researching both species and this Hastings-Port Macquarie project has added significantly to those two projects.
The ACP is also researching Cherax cuspidatus and the project area is the southern most distribution area for the species. The results have contributed significantly to our C. cuspidatus project and a paper is currently in preparation: Taxonomy, distribution and ecology of the cusped yabby Cherax cuspidatus (Riek 1969). Robert B McCormack, Peter J F Davie and Dean R Jerry.
Additionally, the information gathered from this project will contribute to the wider paper on the distribution of the eight Parastacidae species of the Hasting River Drainage.
Gosford City Council Ecological Research Grant 2013/14
Australian Aquatic Biological was successful in winning another Gosford City Council Ecological Research grant. The project will concentrate on the biology, distribution and abundance of Gramastacus crayfish and invertebrates in the Avoca and Cockrone Lagoon freshwater ephemeral habitats, with the project starting at the end of August 2013.
Southern Clyde River Survey Project
Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority is major sponsoring this project which is approaching fruition. The information collected on the aquatic biodiversity from the high altitude feeder stream right down to the saltwater estuary is all included within the final project report. Additionally, the survey has resulted in a huge amount of data being collected on both Euastacus spinifer and Euastacus yanga. Information on their ecology, biology and distribution will be documented in a paper titled: McCormack RB and Crass D. New records and review of the distribution and ecology of freshwater crayfish (Crustacea, Decapoda, Parastacidae) of the southern catchment of the Clyde River, New South Wales, Australia. This paper is currently in preparation and we hope to have it published later this year.
Coffs Harbour City Council coastal Survey.
Tenuibranchiurus crayfish are rare and endangered crayfish in NSW. The species we have in NSW are a new unnamed species that we know very little about. We don’t have any biological or ecological information and little or no idea of where the species occur. To help fill these enormous knowledge gaps the ACP has been researching the whole northern NSW coastal strip. As part of the broader project the ACP has received an ecological research grant from Coffs Harbour City Council to biologically survey their coastal strip. Crustacean species are abundant in the area with an enormous biodiversity which makes the surveying very exciting. One of the stranger crustaceans we collected was a freshwater crab that was found with riffle shrimps Australayatya striolata and the small spiny crayfish Euastacus dangadi. I didn’t recognise the species as it’s not something ever captured before in NSW. I immediately went to Australia’s crab expert, Peter Davie of the Queensland Museum and he set me straight, it’s a River Swimming Crab Varuna litterata. Its a tropical species previously only ever recorded as far south as south east Queensland this is the first time it’s ever been recorded in NSW. An unexpected but most welcome surprise. (Seems the east coast current has delivered another new species to NSW).
The eastern swamp crayfish Gramastacus sp. nov. (Decapoda: Parastacidae) a new species of freshwater crayfish from coastal New South Wales, Australia is in press.
The description of a new Gramastacus species from coastal NSW is currently in press. Hopefully in a short period this new species description will be published. Its an endangered species that occurs in the fastest developing coastal region of Australia (found from Gosford to Forster) and is seemingly critically endangered and heading towards extinction in some catchments. Once we get a name for the species future research will then be directed towards its conservation.
Research Project 100007 initiated in 2008 has finally been completed. This project has been ongoing for the last 10 years, but has at last culminated in the publication of a description of a NEW Euastacus species for the western drainage of New South Wales, Australia.
The Cudgegong Giant Spiny Crayfish Euastacus vesper is described from the upper reaches of the Cudgegong River, east of Kandos NSW. The description was published in May 2017 in the international journal Zootaxa.
Euastacus vesper sp. nov., a new giant spiny crayfish (Crustacea, Decapoda, Parastacidae) from the Great Dividing Range, New South Wales, Australia ROBERT B. MCCORMACK & SHANE T. AHYONG DOI: https://doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4244.4.6
This new species seemingly has a very small distribution and faces a large range of serious threats. The next Project will to systematically survey the surrounding area and accurately define the exact distribution of the species and then publish a paper of its conservation status, something we consider based on the available information, would be “Critically Endangered”.
Research Project 100084 has been generated to designate a conservation status for this new Euastacus species.
For another article on E. vesper, see:
This species is endemic to Victoria with a relatively small distribution known at this time (estimated extent of occurrence of approximately 200 km2). Found in the upper Yarra, Acheron, Yea and Big Rivers. An area roughly from Kinglake to Eildon to Jamieson to Noojee to Hoddles Creek. Central Highlands Burrowing Cray Engaeus affinis has been assessed on the IUCN Red List as Data Deficient.
It’s a robust species and at many sites relatively abundant. Typically, it’s a communal burrower, both type 2 & 3 burrows with multiple surface entrances (20 or so) over a square metre. Both fans shaped entrances and chimneys. Surface openings descend into large central burrows. Central burrows are relatively large in diameter (150 to 200 mm), typically water filled and tending horizontal and descending and converging into a larger chamber.
Typically, the easiest way to capture is to excavate down to the water level, usually from 200 to 600 mm deep. Once water is found, wait, (patience required), larger males will come to investigate the disturbance and you can grab them, otherwise, every 5 minutes or so, shove your hand down the burrow and feel around in the water. If you are lucky and have good feeling in your fingers you should be able to grab one every 5-10 minutes. That’s the way we collected the specimens for this article.
Those from Healesville were in a yellow clay on the slope beside a creek approximately 1.2 metres above the creek water height (7 metres from creek bank) but had water at 650 mm in the burrow system. Those from Badger Creek were in a fine silty material in a seepage area in the tree fern forest with water only 100 mm below ground level and over 100 m from Badger Creek.
Also known as “The Mernda Land Yabby” Engaeus quadrimanus (Clark 1936) is a relatively widespread and locally abundant species. It’s a lowland species generally found under 250 m a.s.l. from just north of Melbourne, east along the Victorian coast to just before the NSW border. Engaeus quadrimanus has been assessed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.
This specimen is from the west of the range. Collected from the bank of Fish Creek a tributary of the Tarwin River crossing Meeniyan-Promontory Rd, Fish Creek, Victoria.
A very robust and adaptable species that usually has large colonies with the area being riddled with burrows. Typically, burrows are round to oval in shape and open with excavated material at the entrance (see photo). In some areas they can create a pelleted chimney but for many areas it’s just an open hole in the ground as the excavated material has been washed away with flood waters. Burrows are type 2 and relatively basic with only 2-3 surface entrances descending to a horizontal corridor then a deeper burrow to water table. Typically most of the burrow system is flooded and typically they are individual burrows with both males and females having their own burrows. One of the keys to the species is that they are intersexed so hard to determine which are males and which females. Breeding season is autumn and they can be found sharing burrows together then. The species is extremely active during flood events and uses the creeks to migrate and find mates, etc.
For a similar article on this species and images from populations further east, go to: http://www.austcray.com/2015/09/engaeus-quadrimanus-from-cann-river-victoria/
Project: 100007 started back in 2008 final draws to a closure. The project that started out as an unidentified Euastacus crayfish species has been found in western drainage of NSW has been finalized with the completion of the project going to press.
A scientific manuscript title; Euastacus sp. nov., a new giant spiny crayfish (Crustacea, Decapoda, Parastacidae) from the Great Dividing Range, New South Wales, Australia, by Robert B. McCormack & Shane T. Ahyong has been completed and submitted to the journal Zootaxa.
The new species is described from the upper Cudgegong River, New South Wales, Australia This new species occurs in the western drainage of the Great Dividing Range, and is most closely related to E. spinifer (Heller, 1865), which occurs on the eastern side of the range. The new species differs from E. spinifer by its considerably smaller maximum size, greater degree of thoracic spination loosely arrayed in three instead of two rows, genetic sequence divergence in COI and unusual colour variations.
Both Euastacus armatus and the new Euastacus species occur in the upper Cudgegong River and this has led to much confusion in the past. Recent research by Whiterod et al., 2016 indicates that the E. armatus population in the upper Cudgegong is a translocated population.
In our present study, we formally describe this new Euastacus species, increasing the number of species of Euastacus to 53.
Cheers Rob McCormack
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