Glenelg Spiny Crayfish Monitoring

Population monitoring of the nationally endangered Glenelg Spiny Crayfish (Euastacus bispinosus) within rising spring habitats of the Lower South East of South Australia.

Female Glenelg Spiny Crayfish with eggs (in berry)

Female Glenelg Spiny Crayfish with eggs (in berry)

The Glenelg Spiny Crayfish (Euastacus bispinosus), or Pricklybacks as they’re affectionately known, have a restricted distribution – naturally occurring only in the Lower South East of South Australia and South West of Victoria. In the South East of South Australia, the species is restricted to only five known rising-spring habitats and associated creeks or in some cases, drains. In 2006, Aquasave Consultants conducted the first study to inclusively monitor the Glenelg Spiny Crayfish population in South East South Australia. This monitoring highlighted the vulnerability of the species, with alarmingly low abundance. The population was estimated at less than 500 individuals across a small core area of occurrence of only 24 km2. There was also a notable sex bias towards females (inferring fishing pressure) and large proportion of individuals with irregular sexual characteristics. These outcomes contributed to the escalation of the conservation status of the species to endangered nationally and closure of the recreational fishery in February 2011.

In 2011, Aquasave Consultants reassessed the conservation status of the South East South Australia population under a contract to Friends of Parks (Mount Gambier) through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)’s South East Cooperative Coastal Conservation Initiative (a Caring for Our Country funded project) project. Together DENR and the Friends of Mount Gambier Area Parks are focusing on restoration activities necessary for successful recovery. There has been a high level of participation in the monitoring program from both landholders and community members. This active participation has been important for increasing local understanding of the species, its habitat and required recovery actions.

Heaviest Pricklyback (110 mm OCL, 850 g) from both field trips

Heaviest Pricklyback (110 mm OCL, 850 g) from both field trips

The outcomes of the 2011 monitoring indicate that persisting Glenelg Spiny Crayfish sub-populations are present in known and new rising-spring habitats across the restricted core area of occurrence. However, many of these sub-populations contained low numbers, had poor or no signs of recruitment, were dominated by large and presumably aging crayfish, and contained a high percentage of individuals with gonopore aberrations. Of most concern was the declining trend in both CPUE and condition of rising-spring habitat over the five years from the 2006 survey to the present monitoring. As such, the conservation assessment concluded that the species remains ‘Critically Endangered’ in South Australia, with an extreme risk of localised, and regional, extinction.

A review of management actions highlighted that some progress (i.e. revegetation, reinstalling of physical habitat) has been made, but clearly much more work is required to ensure the conservation of Glenelg Spiny Crayfish within South Australia. These outcomes will provide critical information to guide the direction of these future restoration activities.

For more information, contact and see:

Whiterod, N. and Hammer, M. (2012). Population monitoring of Glenelg Spiny Crayfish (Euastacus bispinosus) in rising-spring habitats of lower south east, South Australia. Report to the Friends of Parks Inc. Aquasave Consultants, Adelaide. p. 27.

 

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  • Our coastal Karst Rising Springs are in the spotlight this May! May 11, 2016 The lower South East coast is home to a unique type of wetland called Karst Rising Springs. These environments are spring-fed wetlands and are found close to the coast from the Victorian border to near Bray (SE of Robe). Spring-fed wetlands or Karst Rising Springs (KRS) are distinguished by a permanent water body forming from groundwater ...
  • Papers on the status of Glenelg Spiny Crayfish May 23, 2014 Two scientific papers featuring our research on Glenelg Spiny Crayfish have recently been accepted for publication. The papers highlight the concerning status of the South Australian population of the species and provide a sound basis to conservation.  Details of the papers are (note: links to pdfs will be provided on publications page shortly): Whiterod, N.S., Sweeney, O.F., ...
  • Preliminary genetic investigation prompts Glenelg Spiny Crayfish workshop May 24, 2013 The preliminary outcomes of our spiny crayfish genetics project (funded by Friends of Mt Gambier Area Parks and Norman Wettenhall Foundation) have recently been published (a copy of the paper is attached here). The main focus of the paper was  to document genetic markers that will form the basis of the comprehensive population genetic assessment that ...
  • Summing up the World Wetlands Day event at the Mt Gambier Library February 20, 2013 Earlier tonight I made the journey into the Mount to give a talk on the history of the Piccaninnie Ponds wetlands, including the more recent story of the restoration of the Ponds and Pick Swamp. It was also great to hear about regional groundwater and its interaction with wetlands from Claire Harding, followed by Oisín ...
  • RE Ross Trust Annual Report highlights the Glenelg Spiny Crayfish project January 10, 2013 One of the charitable goals of the RE Ross Trust is to invest in the preservation of Australian flora and fauna – and one way it chooses to do so, is by providing funds to the Norman Wettenhall Foundation to run a Small Environmental Grants Scheme. NGT’s application to the Norman Wettenhall Foundation last year was ...
  • Spreading the pricklyback word! December 9, 2012 I recently gave a presentation entitled ‘Pricklybacks on the brink: an updated assessment of Glenelg Spiny Crayfish within rising-spring habitats of the south east of South Australia’ at the 51st Australian Society for Limnology (ASL) conference in Armidale. It was a great opportunity to highlight the plight of the species at a national level and get input from colleagues ...
  • (Still) on the hunt for Glenelg Spiny Crayfish! September 29, 2012 Oisín and I had the tough task of spending the weekend traversing the Grampians National Park surveying Glenelg Spiny Crayfish as part of our genetics project. We came, we saw and we collected samples from several populations and now have good spatial coverage across the species range to enable assessment of the genetic structure of ...
  • On the hunt for Glenelg Spiny Crayfish! September 7, 2012 Oisín Sweeney (South Australian DEWNR), Lauren and myself have recently had a great time sampling Glenelg Spiny Crayfish across SW Victoria. The highlight was our (almost, 5am!) all nighter on the Crawford River where good catches were observed (thanks to advice from Jodie Honan and Charlie Cooper!). The sampling is contributing to a collaborative (DEWNR, ...

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