Our Hearty Rare Crawdad — the Nashville Crayfish

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Emily Kubis over at the Brentwood Home Page has a really cool article on the widening of Concord Road (about time) and how it's being complicated by a famous resident of the area. No, not some country star — the endangered Nashville Crayfish.

To widen the two Brentwood bridges, TDOT will have to extend existing concrete bridge piers, causing a loss of the crustaceans’ habitat.

In order to mediate the effects on crayfish population, biologists must relocate any crayfish found within the construction area or downstream to upstream sections of Mill Creek and Owl Creek.

Plus, they're forbidden from working on the bridges at all during the Nashville Crayfish's mating season.

I was initially confused by the quote from Bill Reeves, Chief of Biodiversity with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, when he said, "A lot of imperiled species are very sensitive to environment changes. The Nashville crayfish is obviously not one of those, because you can go into urban parts of Nashville and find them." It's weird to think of an animal that's endangered being kind of ubiquitous.

But then I came across this Nashville Crayfish survey the state did in 2005 and, lo and behold, it does kind of sound like the Nashville Crayfish is thriving in the one place in the world it lives.

Early accounts suggested that the species was limited solely to Mill Creek and its largest tributaries (including Sevenmile Creek), but research over the last 20 years has documented the species in progressively smaller waters. [...] Though often not abundant in the most minor of Mill Creek tributaries, O. shoupi has managed to eke out an existence at many locations despite an overwhelming abundance of competing species.

So, it seems like the Nashville Crayfish is a success story. We're careful with it and it continues to live in the one spot it lives in. In a way, this is like the Tennessee Purple Coneflower in that it's always been rare and unique. It's not endangered like most things are, where there used to be a lot of them and then we fucked it up. It's always just been in this one spot and so we're watching out for it, so that it continues to be there.

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