Help keep the crawdads from taking over!

By June 20th, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Comment

Help scientists deter invasive crayfish species. Photo: Craywatch.org

Help scientists deter invasive crayfish species. Photo: Craywatch.org

Some of you may have fond memories of summers spent kneeling by nearby streams, peering intently for crayfish to play with (or cook up for dinner!). These tiny, lobster-like creatures are a staple of freshwater ecosystems, southern menus, and even neuroscience classes. (No kidding — I learned about action potentials from a wonderful college professor who studies crayfish!)

Not all crayfish are alike — some native species of crawdad are being outcompeted by invasive, non-native species. Indeed, nearly half of the North American crayfish varieties are considered to be threatened.

To combat the non-native invasion, Craywatch.org is enlisting citizen scientists to monitor the spread of invasive crayfish in North America. To participate, all you need is a smartphone with a camera and a GPS tag! Find a crayfish, snap a couple of close-ups, and upload to the group’s Flickr account. Presto — you’re a citizen scientist!

Dr. Zen Faulkes, a professor of biology at The University of Texas-Pan American, recently started this project after reading a study about the positive impact of citizen scientists on bee monitoring.

Craywatch is just getting started and it needs your help! Now that summer weather has hit, what better time to explore a nearby stream? Visit the project website or send Dr. Faulkes an email today to get going!

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