Threat Assessment and Evaluation of Burrowing Crayfish in Reclamation Canals

Project ID: 20042
Principal Investigator: Aaron Murphy
Research Topic: Invasive Species
Funded Fiscal Years: 2020 and 2021
Keywords: None

Research Question

Although crayfish are an important component of many freshwater ecosystems and a significant food source for other animals, dense populations can become a nuisance. In addition, some species have been displaced far outside their native range and established sustaining invasive populations. In either scenario, excessive crayfish burrowing can pose a threat to earthen embankment integrity.

Personnel in the PN Region have observed excessive crayfish populations associated with canal seepage, embankment damage, and increased risks for failure. District staff estimate that approximately 16 miles of canal will need to be reshaped before next season, costing nearly $1 million. This project will assess conditions that may have caused crayfish to become problematic, investigate crayfish burrowing impacts, potential risks across Reclamation facilities, and explore monitoring and mitigation methods.

Initial steps will include a literature review will to ascertain current state of knowledge and site-specific information regarding crayfish habitat and reproduction characteristics, burrowing behavior and impacts, and monitoring and control methods. Innovative/integrated pest management options will also be explored.

The outcome of this project will be a document assessing conditions associated with excessive crayfish burrowing, as well as potential risks throughout Reclamation facilities. Control methods will also be discussed and recommendations/best practices created. This research will be disseminated to resource managers across Reclamation to lower canal O&M costs and improve the reliability of water and power delivery.

Need and Benefit

Reclamation's earthen lined canals may be vulnerable to extensive burrowing damage by crayfish under certain operations and environmental conditions. This study will evaluate potential causational circumstances related to excessive crayfish populations and burrowing behavior, assess the extent and degree of risks to Reclamation facilities, and explore innovative and efficient solutions.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 6/22/20