Rare or threatened crustaceans
Freshwater Tiger Crab, Austrothelphusa tigrina (top) and Swamp Crayfish, Tenuibranchiurus glypticus.
While most crustaceans are reasonably resilient to environmental change, there is no doubt that habitat degradation and pollution have had an effect on their diversity and abundance. In urban areas, most freshwater species are more prevalent in upper catchment areas than in lowlands where excessive growth of algae and siltation are major problems. Coastal wetlands are also disappearing at an alarming rate and species restricted to these areas appear to be very sensitive to habitat disturbance.
Another emerging problem is predation and competition from an increasing number of introduced species. This includes not only alien fish, but also in the Greater Brisbane Region from other Queensland crayfish, such as the Redclaw and the Inland Yabby that are not native to the area.
At least two species of crayfish indigenous to south-eastern Queensland, the Sand Yabby (Cherax robustus) and Swamp Yabby (Tenuibranchiurus glypticus), are patricularly vulnerable to habitat loss and urban development. Both species are dependent on coastal, acidic sedge-heath and paperbark swamps, characterised by pools of tannin-stained water, and sandy soils covered in organic matter. This specialised habitat requirement restricts their distribution to isolated patches and, in turn, makes their existence precarious. Lowering of the water table, drainage of swamps, construction of roads and housing estates and increased levels of pollution are all potentially threatening.
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