Here in Australia we have several different burrowing crayfish, all of which have little tails and big claws.
Most people are aware that the south west region of Western Australia is a biodiversity hotspot. But it’s not so well known that we have a significant number of endemic freshwater crayfish, including the genus Engaewa and the species Engaewa pseudoreducta, the Margaret River Burrowing Crayfish.
Burrowing crayfish are very important to ecosystems because their burrows aerate and turn over the soil which provides air and nutrients to plant roots. The burrows of burrowing crayfish are also utilised by other animals.
Under state and federal legislation and the IUCN red list, the Margaret River Burrowing Crayfish Engaewa pseudoreducta is listed as critically endangered. The original location where Engaewa pseudoreducta was first described is now a tree plantation and the species is no longer found there. Currently there are only two locations (around 2 km apart) where the Margaret River Burrowing Crayfish are known to be found and no specimens have been collected from either for a couple of years.
Members of the genus Engaewa are vulnerable to extinction because they have limited ability to disperse and because they need to be able to reach the water table. Activities like viticulture, tree farming, other farming and tourism, as well as groundwater extractions and a drying climate are shifting the water table and threatening burrowing crayfish.
The Department of Parks and Wildlife DPaW (previously the Department of Environment and Conservation, or DEC) has developed a recovery plan and created a recovery team for all of the threatened species of Engaewa, with its objective to ensure survival and decrease the threat of extinction
The south west region once provided a refuge for many flora and fauna species; however we are now experiencing the greatest rainfall reductions in Australia. The lack of rainfall along with the regions popularity for wine, farming and tourism, is threatening species like the Margaret River Crayfish and these species are now facing extinction.