Live Oral Presentation in person as part of National Virtual Conference AFSS Conference 2020

Cryptic Crayfish in the ACT (#8)

Matthew Beitzel 1 , Mark Jekabsons 1 , Lisa Evans 1
  1. ACT Government, Canberra, ACT, Australia

The ACT has two species of medium sized montane Euastacus Spiny Crayfish; Alpine Crayfish (Euastacus crassus) and Riek’s Crayfish (Euastacus rieki).  Spiny Crayfish are slow growing, taking many years to mature. Both these species occur above 600 m A.S.L. and have maximum temperature tolerances between 16 and 21oC (McCormack 2012). They occur in both creeks and bog and fens which are locally and nationally listed threatened community with E. rieki tends to occur at higher altitudes and lower temperature.  

The ACT Government has been working to understand the distribution and status of these species as they are considered to be at risk of climate change, fire, habitat destruction and pest animal impacts.  Pilot studies were undertaken in the two major habitat types to determine the most efficient survey methods, compared daytime, and overnight bait trapping, spotlighting and backpack electrofishing.  Tank trials were also undertaken to establish bait choice and examine escapism from bait traps.   Distribution maps of the crayfish for the ACT were developed from additional surveys, historic and opportunistically collected records.  These are helping guide actions following the 2020 Orroral Valley Fires which impacted approximately 90 % of the distribution of E. rieki, burning both bog and creek habitat and resulting in high predation by foxes particularly bog habitat where vegetation cover has been removed.