New crayfish species records from the Sipsey Fork drainage, including Lewis Smith Reservoir (Alabama, USA): Native or introduced species?
As part of a study of aquatic faunal community changes along riverine-lacustrine transition zones upstream of Lewis Smith Reservoir in northwest Alabama, USA, we collected crayfish from 60 sites in the Sipsey Fork, Brushy Creek, and selected tributaries (Black Warrior River system). After finding two unexpected and possibly-introduced crayfish species, we expanded our investigation of crayfish distributions to include crayfish obtained from stomachs of black bass (Micropterus spp.) caught at seven sites in the reservoir. To explore what crayfish species were in the drainage historically, we examined museum databases as well as stomach and intestinal contents of a variety of preserved fishes that were caught in the Sipsey Fork and Brushy Creek drainages upstream of the reservoir in the early 1990’s. Of the seven crayfish species collected, one, Orconectes (Procericambarus) sp. nr ronaldi, was not previously reported from Alabama, and another, O. lancifer, was not reported from the Black Warrior River system prior to the study. Three are known or possibly introduced species. Upstream of the reservoir, the native species Cambarus obstipus, C. striatus, and O. validus were common. The same three species were found in fish collected in the 1990’s. Orconectes perfectus was found only in the reservoir but may be native to the drainage. Orconectes lancifer was in the reservoir and in stream reaches influenced by the reservoir. Evidence points to O. lancifer being introduced in the drainage, but this is uncertain. Orconectes sp. nr ronaldi was found in a relatively small portion of Brushy Creek and its tributaries, in both flowing and impounded habitats, and may be introduced. Orconectes virilis is introduced in Alabama and was found only in stomachs of fish collected in the reservoir.