State to Conduct Study on Short Mountain Crayfish in Cannon and DeKalb counties

July 22, 2011

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Natural Heritage Program, in partnership with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, is conducting a field study to determine the geographical extent of the Short Mountain crayfish (Cambarus clivosus) in Cannon and DeKalb counties.

This new species, first recognized in 2006, has been found in headwater streams in both the East Fork Stones River and Caney Fork River watersheds, extending generally from Woodbury to Smithville. Its preferred habitat includes chert- and shale-dominated headwater streams, springs and seeps, often perched high in coves and hollows. It can, however, extend to valley floors if enough cold spring water is available. The Short Mountain crayfish makes small burrows in chert and cobble, both in streams and immediately adjacent to streams where the substrate stays wet.

This species is recognized easily by its body coloration that varies from olive drab to burnt orange as seen from above, and by the cream and orange coloration of its pincers as seen from below. It possesses a single row of generally six to eight tubercles on top of the "palm" of the pincer. Photos of the Short Mountain crayfish are attached.

If you believe you have suitable habitat, or have seen this crayfish, TDEC’s Natural Heritage Program would appreciate hearing from you and would welcome the opportunity to conduct a brief examination of your site. Headwater areas north and northwest, and south and southwest of the Woodbury town center are of particular interest, but all site information is welcome.

For more information or to discuss potential field examinations, please contact Natural Heritage zoologist David Withers at 615-532-0441 or

TDEC and TWRA would like to express appreciation to the numerous landowners who already have allowed access to their properties for this survey. Both agencies are deeply grateful for their cooperation.

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