Procambarus Ortmannicus acutus (Girard, 1852)

Loughman, Zachary J. & Simon, Thomas P., 2011, Zoogeography, taxonomy, and conservation of West Virginia's Ohio River floodplain crayfishes (Decapoda, Cambaridae), ZooKeys 74, pp. 1-78 : 42-44

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Procambarus Ortmannicus acutus (Girard, 1852)


Procambarus Ortmannicus acutus (Girard, 1852)

Cambarus acutus Girard 1852:91.

Astacus Blandigii Leconte 1956:400.

Cambarus acutus var. A Hagen 1870:36.

Cambarus acutus var. B Hagen 1870:36.

Cambarus stygius Bundy 1876:3.

Cambarus Stygius Underwood 1886:373.

Cambarus blandingii acutus Faxon 1890:619.

Cambarus blandingi acutus Ortmann 1905a:105.

Cambarus (Cambarus) blandingi acutus Ortmann 1905a:105.

Ortmannicus blandingi acutus Rhoades 1942:1.

Procambarus (Ortmannicus) acutus acutus Hobbs 1972: 9; 1974:53, fig. 240; 1981:372, figs. 15b, 136a, 138b, 140, 143-145, 244. Hobbs and Jass 1988:105-113, figs. 69 a– 69j, 70.

Procambarus acutus Pflieger 1996:130-133, figs. 30 A– 30J. Taylor et al. 1996:31. Taylor et al. 2007:385.

Procambarus (Ortmannicus) acutus Page 1985:376, figs. 107 A– 107F. Taylor and Schuster 2004:203-205, figs. 172 A– 172B, 173 A– 173H. Loughman 2007:495; 2010:57, fig. 20.


Rostrum slightly broad and triangular; width of rostrum margins reduced; margins converging terminating in 2 marginal spines; acumen with distal rostral spine; postorbital ridges prominent, cephalic margin with tubercle; cephalothorax dorsolaterally compressed in profile, anterior portion vaulted; areola obliterated at narrowest point; branchiostegal region moderately punctate, with small tubercles; small cervical spine present; chelae elongate and lance shaped; mesial surface of palm with single dorsal row of 7-9 pronounced tubercles; additional tubercles scattered over dorsal surface of palm. Bases of first form male gonopods contiguous; gonopod with 4 terminal elements, covered by dense setae; central projection pointed and corneous; caudal process short; mesial process pointed and straight in profile; cephalic process elongated and pointed; second form gonopod annulus ventralis circular in shape, embedded deeply in sternum, and movable.

Color in life.

Carapace, chelae, and pereiopods dorsally and laterally red-gray, gray-purple, burgundy, or red; branchial region of smaller individuals mottled with black spots; tubercles on chelae cream, red-brown, red, or black; dorsal surface of abdomen with a distinct black wedge.

Specimens examined.

Procambarus acutus were collected in Mason County at three locations, listed below.

MASON COUNTY: Roadside ditch adjacent to RT 2, 9.17 km (5.7 mi) S of Point Pleasant, 38.80469 -82.18821; 12 April 2004 - (WLU 04041206), 1 I♂, 3 ♀; 13 April 2004 - (WLU 04041301), 1 II♂; 28 April 2004 - (WLU 04042802), 2 I♂, 1 II♂; 17 March 2005 - (WLU 05031701), 2 I♂; 18 March 2005 - (WLU 05031802), 2 II♂, 2 ♀. Krodel Park marsh adjacent to Fort Randolph reproduction, 38.785404 -82.12209; 5 March 2005 - (WLU 05030502), 1 I♂, 2 ♀; 17 March 2005 - (WLU 05031703), 8 I♂; 22 March 2005 - (WLU 05032201), 2 I♂, 2 II♂, 2 O♀, 8 ♀, 1 Juv. Pin oak swamp adjacent to Point Pleasant Moose Lodge in Wagner, 38.833603 -82.12227; 26 February 2004 - (WLU 04022601), 4 I♂, 2 ♀; 26 March 2004 - (WLU 04032601), 3 ♀, 2 Juv.; 12 April 2004 - (WLU 04041205), 4 I♂, 2 ♀, 2 Juv.; 28 April 2004 - (WLU 04042801), 9 II♂, 2 ♀; 21 March 2005 - (WLU 05032101), 1 ♀; 10 April 2005 - (WLU 05041001), 1 I♂, 1♀.


Procambarus acutus is a wide-ranging species associated with wetlands present throughout the central and eastern United State excluding the majority of the Appalachian Mountains ( Taylor and Schuster 2004). Several introduced populations occur through North America ( Taylor et al. 2007). In West Virginia, Procambarus acutus occurs in the Middle Ohio South and Lower Kanawha basins (Figure 16), and was first reported occurring in West Virginia by Loughman (2007). Given its history of introductions elsewhere, Procambarus acutus was initially thought to be an introduced species in West Virginia. It’s use in aquaculture and as bait for fishing has led to non-indigenous populations occurring throughout North America, with confirmed non-indigenous populations documented in California ( Gander 1927), Maine ( Crocker 1979), and Kentucky ( Taylor and Schuster 2004). As discussed below, current evidence suggests that Procambarus acutus is a native species in West Virginia.

Several species, including the oak, Quercus bicolor Willd., the salamander, Ambystoma texanum (Mathes, 1885), and Fallicambarus fodiens , are found in the Lower Ohio and Lower Kanawha drainages in West Virginia. They are theorized to be pre-glacial Marietta River relicts ( Green and Pauley 1987; Jezerinac and Stocker 1987; Strausbaugh and Core 1978). The Marietta River was a major tributary of the pre-glacial Teays River, and the area of the Ohio River and Kanawha River confluence is considered to be the Marietta River Valley ( Stout et al. 1943). Several species that are found in no other part of the state inhabit this biotic region. Jezerinac and Stocker (1987) used the Marietta River Valley to explain the disjunction of the West Virginia Fallicambarus fodiens population from the core of its range across the midwest. This species occurs sympatrically with Procambarus acutus at two of three sites along the floodplain.

Ambystoma texanum ( Green and Pauley 1987) occurred at two sites harboring Procambarus acutus populations. Both Ambystoma texanum and Fallicambarus fodiens have limited, disjunct ranges in West Virginia. In Ohio, Procambarus acutus has been collected from sites in the pre-glacial Teays River drainage, as well as in the area theorized to be the Teays River, Marietta River confluence ( Thoma and Jezerinac 2000). The presence of these two species at three of the four Procambarus acutus collection sites, along with Procambarus acutus only being collected in the Marietta River Valley and nowhere else along the Ohio River floodplain of West Virginia, appears to validate the hypothesis that Procambarus acutus is native to West Virginia


The largest Procambarus acutus collected in this study was a 43.1 mm TCL female collected from the Moose Lodge wetland, Mason County. The largest male was a 40.6 mm TCL form I also collected from the same locality. Mean Procambarus acutus carapace length was 28.7 mm (n = 68, SD = 7.79). Morphometrics data for Procambarus acutus are presented in Table 13.

Habitat and natural history.

Procambarus acutus (Figure 24) had not been collected from West Virginia prior to this survey. Loughman (2007) reported itslife history in the state. He found the species at only three of 18 sites surveyed in Mason County during 2004-2005. Captures in minnow traps peaked in late-March and decreased steadily until May. At this time, trapping rates were minimal and most specimens were collected during nocturnal searches by hand or with dip nets. During the summers of 2004-2005, ephemeral wetlands harboring Procambarus acutus experienced periods of drawdown leading to elevated burrowing activity. Burrow morphology for Procambarus acutus consisted of simple vertical shafts 30-40 cm deep ending in an enlarged central chamber. Chimneys present at the entrances of burrows ranged from 5 to 15 cm high.

Form I males were collected in all months between February and May, while form II males were also collected from February through April (Table 9). Females were taken in all spring months, with an increase of captures in March. Three with 4th stage instars were collected on 22 March 2005. Number of pleopodal instars for each female was 72, 72 and 65, with a mean of 69. There was a positive correlation (r2 = 0.963, n = 3) between carapace length and total number of pleopodal instars. Procambarus acutus populations appear to have six distinct size cohorts although these data need to be interpreted with caution due to low sample size ( Jezerinac et al. 1995).

Amplexus was observed in the field on 5 May 2005 at 22:00 h. Two amplexing pairs were observed resting on pond substrate adjacent to fallen logs. No amplexing pairs were observed away from cover objects. Several specimens also amplexed in collecting buckets within minutes of being introduced on this same day. An interspecies amplexus was observed on 5 May 2005, when a large form I male Procambarus acutus was coupled with a female Orconectes virilis for 30 minutes. In the laboratory Procambarus acutus displayed reproductive behaviors (amplexes) from early May 2005 through mid-July 2005. Crayfish associates collected with Procambarus acutus included Cambarus thomai , Cambarus bartonii cavatus , Fallicambarus fodiens and Orconectes virilis .

Conservation status within study area.

Based on the Marietta River Valley theory, we believe that Procambarus acutus is a native species and should be given protection. Future investigations need to focus on the Kanawha River Floodplain between Point Pleasant and St. Albans. The Moose Lodge wetland is located on the Kanawha River and is the most diverse site surveyed in this study. All major habitats along the Ohio River floodplain that have been surveyed extensively in Mason County did not yield any additional Procambarus acutus populations. When present at a site, Procambarus acutus was the dominant surface water crayfish. Conservation efforts for this species should focus on preserving habitat. The Moose Lodge wetland should be conserved for protection and monitoring, not only for Procambarus acutus populations, but also for the myriad of Marietta River relicts occurring in the wetland.