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Ohio wildlife researchers discover new species of crayfish after 45-year search

The blue crayfish may not only be Ohio's most colorful species of crayfish, but its rarest as well.
Credit: Ohio Division of Wildlife/Facebook

MONROE COUNTY, OHIO, Ohio — The Ohio Division of Wildlife has announced the discovery of a new species of crayfish living in eastern Ohio. 

Since 1975, researchers have been on the lookout for blue crayfish (a.k.a. blue crawfish, Cambarus monongalensis). Last week, they finally succeeded. 

On May 19th, an expedition lead by Laura S. Hughes found a small population of the species in Monroe County, Ohio.  Wildlife experts believe the blue crayfish is now not only the most colorful crayfish in Ohio, but possibly its rarest.

The next step for researchers will be to document the total range of the blue crayfish and determine its conservation status within Ohio. It only lives in hillside springs and seeps and is especially vulnerable to changes in groundwater conditions. 

Outside of Ohio, blue crayfish and related species are found in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. The Ohio River has long been a barrier to the dispersal of the species group, but it appears this population crossed into the Ohio area prior to Continental Glaciation and the formation of the Ohio River approximately 2 million years ago.

A tip of the cap to Hughes and the rest of her team on a job well done. 

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