Shield Crayfish (Ditch Fencing Crayfish)

Shield Crayfish (Ditch Fencing Crayfish)

Faxonella clypeata
Cambaridae (freshwater crayfish) in the order Decapoda (shrimp, crabs, and lobsters)

This small, tan crayfish has a pattern of paired blackish dashes along the surface of the carapace and abdomen. The pincers are narrow and cylindrical, with short, abruptly tapering fingers. The rostrum is broad, and without lateral spines or notches. The reproductive structures (gonopods) of males have long, slender tops, and the right and left tips cross each other diagonally. The areola (space in the middle of carapace) is very broad.

Similar species: Most other small crayfish found within the range of the ditch fencing crayfish, such as dwarf crayfish species and the young of other species, have a narrower rostrum, with lateral spines or notches near its tip. Many have the areola narrow or absent.

Adult length: about 1 to 2 inches.
Habitat and conservation: 
Specimens have been collected in winter and early spring from intermittent creeks and seasonally flooded sloughs and swamps. This species retreats to burrows as water levels recede.
Distribution in Missouri: 
This species occurs at scattered localities in southeastern Missouri, particularly along the boundary between Ozark and Lowland faunal regions (southeastern Ripley County and northeastward to southern Bollinger County).
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