The missing mudbug

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Science  28 Aug 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6251, pp. 915-917
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6251.915

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In North America, crayfish have diversified into roughly 400 species—two-thirds of the world's total—and live mainly in the southeast. Biologists estimate nearly half of U.S. species are imperiled, whereas about a third of the world's crayfish are. Spurred by growing concerns that pollution, habitat destruction, and other threats are placing many crayfish species in harm's way, federal officials are taking a hard look at whether to give legal protection to two: the Guyandotte River crayfish found in southern West Virginia and the Big Sandy crayfish found in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia. If the listings go through, a broad range of economically important activities that affect the crayfish, including mining, logging, and recreation, could feel an impact. So government officials are proceeding with care, seeking to learn as much as possible about the enigmatic invertebrates before making decisions—and they are asking researchers like West Liberty University's Zachary Loughman for help.

  • * in Pineville, West Virginia

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