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Systematic revision of the crayfish genus Lacunicambarus
The goal of my Ph.D. dissertation is to investigate the crayfish genus Lacunicambarus using molecular systematics and morphometrics. The most iconic member of this complex is the Devil Crayfish, Lacunicambarus diogenes (Girard 1852). Historically, all burrowing crayfishes that resembled the Devil Crayfish have been labeled as such. This lack of taxonomic resolution has led to the Devil Crayfish sensu lato being one of the most widespread crayfishes in North America. However, it has long been suspected that the Devil Crayfish represents a species complex and in recent years, a handful of species have been described from within this complex. Further teasing apart the Devil Crayfish complex is important because some of the species within it may have actually have relatively small ranges and require differential conservation attention.
October 2019 update: My collaborators Dr. Zac Loughman and Dr. Bronwyn Williams and I just described a new species called the Jewel Mudbug, Lacunicambarus dalyae! We named this species after Dr. Meg Daly of The Ohio State University to recognize all that she has done to help get my dissertation research off of the ground. The Jewel Mudbug is found throughout the southeastern United States. It resembles the Paintedhand Mudbug, L. polychromatus, but has a very different gonopod. This is the most beautiful crayfish that I have encountered to date, and I am very excited to have had the opportunity to name it! Our manuscript in Zootaxa is free to download!
January 2019 update: My collaborators and I just published the description of a new species, Lacunicambarus chimera, that we split off from the Devil Crayfish, L. diogenes. In our paper, which is free to download from Zootaxa, we use both molecular and morphometric techniques to differentiate these two species. We also present all of the information we have about the ecology of this new species and discuss its coloration, range, and much more. A few more species that were previously lumped into the Devil Crayfish still need to be described before this complex is fully resolved. Stay tuned for more updates in 2019!
August 2018 update: My collaborators and I just published the first major findings of this taxonomic revision in the Journal of Crustacean Biology! We have made the following taxonomic changes: