One step closer to re-establishing a keystone species, Murray Crayfish, in South Australia

Did you know that the second largest freshwater crayfish in the world, the Murray Crayfish (Euastacus armatus), was once widespread and abundant in the Murray River in South Australia? However, following population loss attributed to habitat degradation such as the regulation of flows and water abstraction, and other impacts (including a historical commercial fishery in SA), the species is now considered extinct in the state.

Murray Crayfish

Nick and Sylvia recently published an article that details the feasibility of re-establishing the species back in South Australia. Reintroductions were first proposed by Mike Geddes some 25 years ago, but following extensive recent research as well as trial reintroductions undertaken in NSW, it seems that now would be a very opportune time to undertake  this method in SA. In the paper, it is argued that  re-establishing the species could have both ecological (they are a keystone species that has a number of crucial roles in the ecosystems they occur) and social (enhanced community support and interest in the river) benefits to the SA section of the Murray River.

A number of media outlets have recently captured the story. Check out more on ABC Riverland’s Facebook post and you can also read Nick and Sylvia’s full article. Hopefully with gained support from the community and government, we will see this iconic species in the Lower River Murray once more.

Nick Whiterod