UT Tyler receives $180K grant towards crayfish preservation

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The University of Texas at Tyler (UTT) received a $180,000 grant towards Texas-based crayfish conservation efforts headed by a UT Tyler assistant professor.

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According to a release, UTT announced on Wednesday that they received a $180,371 grant from the state comptroller’s office for the study of Texas-based crayfish and their conservation. UTT said that Dr. Ryan Shartau, an assistant professor of biology, will be serving as the principal investigator of the two-year research project.

The university said that Shartau and his team will be collecting live crayfish and measuring the environmental conditions where they are collected in Atascosa, Bastrop, Caldwell, Gonzales, Fayette, Frio, La Salle, Lee and Wilson counties. They said that the research team will be examining how the crayfish species that is ‘of conservation concern’ responds to changes in temperature, dissolved oxygen and water acidity.

Shartau noted that specific changes of environmental variables can negatively impact the population of the crayfish which could in turn harm other species that rely on them as food.

“Loss of crayfish species is likely to have severe consequences on ecosystems, as they are among
the most important organisms in most streams due to their biomass and their role for prey for over 200 aquatic, terrestrial and avian species,” Shartau said. “This research will help scientists and regulatory agencies understand the environmental conditions crayfish in Texas can tolerate so that effective conservation strategies can be enacted to manage the crayfish.”

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Shartau added that over one-third of crayfish species are threatened and that little is known of the status of the Texas-based crayfish, many of which are listed as being of the greatest conservation need.

“There is little known about crayfish physiology, and nothing known about the physiology of
crayfish found in Texas,” Shartau said. “This project is very exciting as these results will be
important for helping protect these fascinating animals.”

The University said that students will play a large part of the project by helping with crayfish care, field collection and physiology experiments at the university.

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