There are nine species of burrowing crayfish that occur within West Gippsland (refer table 1&table 2for information on these species).Five of these are endemic (restricted) to the region and three have special protection and are listed under the VictorianFlora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988. These include the Narracan, Strzelecki and Warragul Burrowing Crayfish.Same place, difference spaceDifferent species of crayfish can occur together creating a rich and diverse crayfish fauna. Where several species live together, they often occupy different spaces or niches within the landscape. This is known as micro-habitat separation. Small scale variations in physical features of the landscape (e.g. moisture, topography, soil type) result in different microhabitats.At a given site occupied by Warragul Burrowing Crayfish for example,the stream bank-water interface may be home to Richards Burrowing Crayfish (Engaeus laevis), the stream banks may be occupied by Granular and/or Lowland Burrowing Crayfish (E. cunicularius & E. quadrimanus), the floodplain by Warragul Burrowing Crayfish (E. sternalis), the higher ground occupied by Gippsland Burrowing Crayfish (E. hemicirratulus) and Spiny crayfish (Euastacus) may be found in the waterways.Burrowing Crayfish Species of West Gippsland
Table of Burrowing Crayfish found in West Gippsland
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Table of Burrowing Crayfish found in West Gippsland - Distinguishing Features of Species and Habitat
Common NameSpecies Main Habitat Burrow / Chimney Distinguishing FeaturesLily PillyEngaeusRostral carinae (anterior Found in variety of vegetation Burrows close to or up to 20 m fromBurrowingaustralis projection of head) fuse types at Wilsons Promontory creek. Chimneys vary from indistinctCrayfish together anteriorly with in flood beds and bars, flood to rim or fan shaped. Burrows can be shell to non-existent plains of creeks, lower hillslopes down to the water-table or on depression in between. and roadside drainage channels. hillslopes where they rely on run-off Bright red to orange rather than extend to the water table. gray colouration.Lowland Engaeus Very similar to Similar to E. cunicularius and Burrows occur above and below theBurrowingquadrimanus E. cunicularius but top occupy a wide variety of mean water table level on creek Crayfish side of dactyl is smooth. habitats. banks or may be more complex in May be difficult to floodplains. distinguish in the field and can only be Build tall, conical pelleted chimneys discerned as adults which may have multiple openings. (>50-60 mm total length).GippslandEngaeus Body and claws usually Found in burrows that are not Construct fan shaped chimneys.Burrowinghemicirratulusbright orange with long reliant on water table. Can be Burrows can have multipleCrayfish stiff hairs. They can also found some distance from entrances. Have long, vertical be entirely pale cream in watercourse, e.g. hillslopes. burrows that terminate in large, colour. water-filled chambers.GranularEngaeusBody brownish, bluish Can be found on junction of Similar to E. quadrimanus. Build tall,Burrowingcunicularius or dark orange. Top bank and creek or more typically pelleted chimneys which may haveCrayfish surface of dactyl found in floodplains and multiple openings. (moveable part of claw) water-logged seepages. is granulated (bumpy).NarracanEngaeusDistinguished by its Found typically in the flood-bed Chimneys tall, conical pellets.Burrowingphyllocercus leaf-like uropods (tail). regions of ferny gullies in wet Burrows down to the water table orCrayfish Range in colour from sclerophyll forest and on creek with lateral ramifications under dark purple hues to banks. tree-fern root mats. bright orange and red colouration.Richards Engaeus Distinguished by Found in flood plains or near Construct simple, short straightBurrowing laevis presence of large standing or permanent water. shafted burrows in the banks of Crayfish penes, conspicuously creeks and can be collected in dip raised orbital ridges and nets in spring when they are free distinctive shaped swimming. sternal keel. Isomorphic (same size) claws.South Engaeus Burrows occur in the flood plain Often shallow, horizontal burrowsGippslandkarnanga region of Lilly Pilly Gully at under logs and root mats.Burrowing Wilsons Promontory under logsCrayfish and fern root mats.Strzelecki EngaeusDistinguished by Found typically in the flood-bed Burrows often located at the base ofBurrowingrostrogaleatus distinctive rostrum regions and boggy seepages tree ferns. Others extend down to Crayfish (Anterior projection of of ferny gullies in wet the water table. Burrows 1-8 head) which is sclerophyll forest. openings surrounded by rim, fan or tuberculate, blunt and pelleted chimneys, some over projected downwards. 10 cm tall. Colours olive brown or purple with orange legs. Claws orange to olive and blue with bright orange tips.Warragul EngaeusSmallest of these Labertouche-Creek banks inBuild narrow, winding burrows inBurrowingsternalis crayfish. Pale yellow / swampy riparian woodland. clays down to water table butCrayfish cream to steel blue. crayfish can reside in lateral Very small eyes. Warragul and Drouin - Banks ramifications in the upper levels of Carapace and claws of creeks, drainage lines and main burrow system in small are covered with fine flood plains in pasture. chambers of “gooey” clay. downy hairs. Chimneys small, with spherical balls or soil surrounding small entrance.