Australian Aquatic Biological

Australian aquatic biodiversity research and consultancy

Euastacus vesper – a NEW Euastacus for NSW

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

The Cudgegong Giant Spiny Crayfish, Euastacus vesper

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.

Euastacus vesper (McCormack & Ahyong 2017)

Euastacus vesper (McCormack & Ahyong 2017)

For another article on E. vesper, see: 

http://www.austcray.com/2017/03/euastacus-vesper-new-euastacus-nsw/

The ACP visits Tasmania

During a recent trip to Tasmania I had the pleasure of seeking some freshwater crayfish between looking at the local tourist attractions. I was there as a tourist for my first look at Tasmania but between traveling to the next tourist attraction I took some time out to look for crayfish and I wasn’t disappointed. Tasmania has an abundance of crayfish species and without too much effort I managed to find a few.

Astacopsis gouldi

Astacopsis gouldi

I was excited to find my first Giant Tasmanian Freshwater Lobster Astacopsis gouldi. Although only juveniles I was very interested in their morphology, I’m looking forward to returning and finding a monster one.

http://www.austcray.com/2015/03/the-giant-tasmanian-freshwater-lobster-astacopsis-gouldi-clark-1936/

Engaeus fossor

Engaeus fossor

The first Engaeus species I found was what seems to be Engaeus fossor. I’m unfamiliar with Tassie crayfish so relying on Horwitz 1990, it keys out as Engaeus fossor, if anyone thinks otherwise please let me know. For an article on this species see: http://www.austcray.com/2015/03/burrowing-crayfish-engaeus-fossor/

Ombrastacoides leptomerus

Ombrastacoides leptomerus

My next find was totally unexpected, I was delighted at finding this Ombrastacoides crayfish in a small swampy drain on the side of a bush track. This was my first Ombrastacoides crayfish and as per Hanson and Richardson 2006 and it seems to be Ombrastacoides leptomerus. I found a number of these in very different habitats. For an article on Ombrastacoides leptomerus see: http://www.austcray.com/2015/03/ombrastacoides-leptomerus/ or http://www.austcray.com/2015/03/ombrastacoides-leptomerus-2nd/

Engaeus mairener

Engaeus mairener

Engaeus mairener is endemic to north-eastern Tasmania, and seemingly abundant being relatively easy to find and with burrows only 60-70 cm deep, relatively easy to dig. For an article on Engaeus mairener see: http://www.austcray.com/2015/03/engaeus-mairener/

Cheers
Rob

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aquatic Biodiversity Survey of Coffs Harbour coastal region completed

Aquatic Biodiversity Survey Coffs Harbour Region

Aquatic Biodiversity Survey Coffs Harbour Region

For the past 12 months AABio has been surveying the coastal creeks, streams and swamps of the Coffs Harbour City Council’s local government area. The surveys are now complete and the final report has been issued to Coffs Harbour City Council.

Cherax cuspidatus

Cherax cuspidatus

The focus of the survey is freshwater crayfish and crustaceans but all aquatic organisms are surveyed and recorded. We were specifically surveying for Tenuibranchiurus crayfish which are a rare and cryptic species in the area. Typically we would catch 150 C. cuspidatus for only one tenuie. We found abundant Cherax cuspidatus and Euastacus dangadi in the region plus numerous other crustaceans. So far we have found five different species of freshwater shrimp. Most species found are common and expected in the area, however we did make some startling discoveries.

Euastacus dangadi

Euastacus dangadi

We found some unusual species like limpets but of significance was the discovery of an extremely unusual freshwater crab. We were surveying a coastal creek flowing through a suburban Coffs Harbour area and finding long finned eels (Anguilla reinhardtii), intermediate spiny crayfish (Euastacus dangadi), plague minnows(Gambusia holbrooki), empire Gudgeons (Hypseleotris compressa), riffle shrimps (Australatya striolata), glass shrimp (Paratya australiensis), eastern river prawns, (Macrobrachium tolmerum), toebiters (Stenosialis australiensis), which were all common, abundant and expected. What was not expected was finding a freshwater crab! Not just any ordinary freshwater crab but something quite unusual. It’s a first for the ACP we hadn’t found these before. If in doubt I always contact the expert in that particular field. In this case its Peter Davie from the Queensland Museum, he’s the man for crabs and I asked him, “what this!” He advised it’s a River Swimming Crab, Varuna litterata. A marine crab known to occur in freshwater, being excellent swimmers and able to move with the currents along the coast. In Australia they have only been recorded from south east Queensland and north into Northern Australia (Qld Museum). They are also known to occur in India, East Africa and Japan. The discovery of this species this far south greatly increases the known distribution of the species. A specific research projects to acquire new knowledge on this species has been started with The Australian Crayfish Project www.austcray.com Eventually we will submit a scientific paper on the range extension. For an article with more photos, site locations, water quality data, etc. Go to: River Swimming Crab Article. http://www.austcray.com/2014/08/river-swimming-crab-herring-bow-crab-varuna-litterata-2/

The Freshwater River Swimming Crab Varuna litterata

The Freshwater River Swimming Crab Varuna litterata

Our thanks to Coffs Harbour City Council and specifically to Rachel Binskin, their Biodiversity Officer for their support of the research project and patience awaiting its completion. The project dragged on longer than expected.

Springbrook National Park, Gold Coast Hinterland, Queensland.

Late December 2012 we had an expedition along the McPherson Range and into Springbrook National Park in Queensland. This was the first of a series of surveys in south eastern Queensland and northern NSW. We are specifically surveying for Cherax and Euastacus crayfish but are recording all crustaceans captured. Paul and I surveyed all the popular tourist areas within Springbrook National Park as well as some of the more unusual areas.

Paul and I camped at The Settlement campground which was quite pleasant.

Paul and I camped at The Settlement campground which was quite pleasant.

The weather was less than perfect and finding our way through the forest was less than easy.

The weather was less than perfect and finding our way through the forest was less than easy.

 

Paul catching Euastacus sulcatus in Purling Brook.

Paul catching Euastacus sulcatus in Purling Brook.

Photo Euastacus sulcatus

The streams in Springbrook national park were full of Euastacus sulcatus. This E. sulcatus from the Tallebudgera Creek drainage had juveniles under her tail.

Photo the Lamington Crayfish Euastacus sulcatus

This male Euastacus sulcatus from the Little Nerang River was out at night and we spotlighted large numbers of Euastacus during our night time surveys.

Photo Sphagnum Frog (Philoria sphagnicola)

Frogs were common throughout the area, not sure what this is. Perhaps a Loveridge’s Mountain Frog (Philoria loveridgei) from Tallebudgera Drainage at 800m. If anyone can let me know what it is that would be great.

 

Frog photo

Larger frogs liker this were common at night in the Little Nerang Drainage at 750 m.

Photo Dragonfly

Dragonflies were also common around the streams and rainforest.

Photo Euastacus maidae

Paul with an adult Hinterland crayfish Euastacus maidae.

Our surveys of Springbrook National Park and the McPherson Range was extremely enlightening and we will revisit the area for more intensive surveys in the future. Our thanks to the Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service for all their help and assistance with our preliminary surveys.

An expedition into the upper Clyde River system

 

Euastacus frehswater crayfish were abundant in the upper Clyde River

In October 2012 we conducted a survey of the upper Clyde River with the priority being to determine the freshwater crayfish species present within the upper catchment. It is currently unknown which freshwater crayfish species occur in this pristine and mostly inaccessible area. Our survey aimed at filling this knowledge gap and also record the other species present within the upland creeks and swamps.

The survey team. From the left: Rob McCormack; Hugh Jones; Paul Van der Werf; David Crass

The survey was a team effort with a group of us getting together to find and survey as many watercourses in the area as possible. The team consisted of;

David Crass – Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority

Hugh Jones – Office of Environment and Heritage

Rob McCormack – Australian Aquatic Biological and Australian Crayfish Project volunteer

Paul Van der Werf – Earthan Group and Australian Crayfish Project volunteer

Hugh scooping and Paul photographing the catch in a tributary of the upper Clyde River

Hugh scooping and Paul photographing the catch in a tributary of the upper Clyde River

The area of interest is entirely within the Morton National Park and with the aid of Libby Shields and Rob Perry who are the local National Parks and Wildlife Service rangers for the area we gained access to the whole park which has a series of maintenance roads through it. It was very fortuitous that we could gain access as it would have taken us ages to cover the area on foot. Libby told us some of the roads were currently impassable but we had Hugh Jones at the wheel of his Toyota troop carrier and though some of the roads proved extreme they were all passable for Hugh and his V8 diesel troop carrier.

Hugh at the wheel of his car with Paul beside him. The roads were extreme.

Hugh at the wheel of his car with Paul beside him, I was hanging on in the back taking this photo and waiting for it to roll. The roads were extreme but Hugh got us out and back safely.

Unfortunately, they were far too extreme for both Pauls and my Great Walls so we left them discarded along the side of the track and loaded into Hugh’s beast for an exciting 4 wheel drive adventure. We came within millimetres of rolling the troopy in a pothole at one point but Hugh ground us up and out of what we described as a bomb crater. Much of the area we were surveying was part of the old bombing range and there were signs up everywhere warning of unexploded ordinance.

Paul and my Great Walls were no match for the rough roads and we were lucky to have Hugh’s Toyota for the extreme roads.

The upland streams in the area were relatively cold being 9-12⁰C and very low pH (4-5) without much biodiversity. The upper streams were without fish though they did occur at lower altitudes. We were unable to find any shrimp, crabs, snails or mussels but both macro invertebrates and tadpoles were common and freshwater crayfish were abundant in many of the larger streams. The area was pristine and a tribute to the NSW National Parks for the management and protection of the area. This survey is part of a series of the area and a report on our findings will be submitted to the Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority and we are thankful to them for assisting with funding for our surveys.

Blue Mountains Tree Frogs (Litoria citropa) were common in the area

 

 

 

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