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Procambarus clarkii:   (click for more)

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FAO Names
En - Red swamp crawfish, Fr - Écrevisse rouge de marais, Sp - Cangrejo de las marismas.
3Alpha Code: RCW     Taxonomic Code: 2290400101
Scientific Name with Original Description
Procambarus clarkii  Girard, 1852
Diagnostic Features
Body shape cylindrical.  Cephalotorax conspicuously granular (roughened) in adults, provided of numerous small tuberculi and also having strong cervical, cephalic, branchiostegal, and marginal spines. Rostrum long with margins straight, convergent, having marginal spines near its tip, ending in a triangular acumen. Chelae narrow and long, notch in proximal portion of dactyl, leaving gap and delimited by tubercle. Large tubercle opposite end of gap on fixed finger; large scarlet tubercles on the palm and fingers. Carapace not separated at the middle (dorsally) by a space, the areola.  Colour in adults dark red, some in shades of brown. A wedge-shaped black stripe is present on the abdomen. Chelae with bright red tubercles. Juveniles uniform grey, sometimes overlain by dark wavy lines. 
Geographical Distribution
Originally distributed from northern Mexico to Florida, and north to southern Illinois and Ohio. Widely introduced in the United States (Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Nexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Oklahoma), south and central America (Belize, Brazil, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic), Europe (Portugal, Spain, France, Cyprus), and other more dispersed areas (Japan, Kenya, China, Taiwan, and Uganda.
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Habitat and Biology
In lentic and lotic freswater habitats: sluggish streams and lentic habitats, swamps, ditches, sloughs, ponds, etc. especially in vegetation, leaf litter, etc. It avoids streams and ditches with strong flow, where it is replaced by other species (i.e. the White River crayfish Procambarus acutus).Territorial behaviour, aggressive with its own species. It burrows during periods of drought or cold.A benthic omnivorous, feeding on insects, larvae, detritus, etc. with preference for vegetal matter.
Females fecundity around 500 eggs average. Females dig burrows in dry areas in the period of reproduction (late spring- early summer in the area of origin). It is a fast-growing species: in adequate conditions larvae were born after 21 days of incubation (5 mm long at 2 days), growing to 2 cm 1 month later and up to 80 mm of lenght in 3 months.  An eurytermal species (10-22 °C to 30 °C or more). Inhabit all types of water, with preference for hard water. 
Size
Total lenght usually between 10,5-11,8 cm (35 to 56 g wet weight respectively). Maximum size up to 20 cm.
Interest to Fisheries
P. clarkii is the dominant North American commercial crayfish. Wild P. clarkii caught seasonally using fishing traps. There is an important aquaculture industry for crayfish in the USA. Culture is developed on farm ponds. Most commercial exploitation of the red swamp crayfish, and the related species Procambarus zonangulus, occurs in Louisiana. Statistics from 1984-1986 oscillated between 27 000 to 44 318 tonnes/yr. (between ca. 30000-45000 tons/yr in Lousiana in recent years - 85% of catches of P. clarkii). In the areas where it has been introduced P. clarkii is highly invasive and a potential vector for the crayfish plague (the fungi Aphanomyces astaci). Crayfish plague was introduced into Europe in 1960s with massive introduction of American freshwater crayfish species. Ever since, many native freshwater crayfish populations disminished or it have been eliminated.
Crayfish are economically important in a number of the USA states for human consumption and also as fish bait.
Local Names
FRANCE : Écrevisse rouge .
USA : Louisiana Lobster ,  American crayfish ,  Red swamp crawfish .
Remarks
Red swamp crayfish most closely resembles the White River crayfish, which differs most obviously in having an areola. Young Procambarus acutus usually have spots on the carapace.
Bibliography
Hobbs, H. H., Jr. - 1989. An Illustrated Checklist of the American Crayfishes (Decapoda: Astacidae, Cambaridae, and Parastacidae). Smithsonian Institution Press.  , Washington D.C. 236 pp..
Vigneux, E., P. Keith & P. Noël - 1993. Atlas Préliminaire des crustacés décapodes d'eau douce de France. Coll. Patrimoines Naturels, vol. 14. S.F.F., B.I.M.M. - M.N.H.N., C.S.P., Min. Env., Paris. .  55 p ..
 
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