E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Orconectes virilis (Hagen 1870)
Northern Crayfish; Virile Crayfish
Family: Cambaridae

© Ian Gardiner  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #76949)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Orconectes virilis in British Columbia
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Species Information


Orconectes virilis, the Northern Crayfish, has a native distribution that extends from Alberta to Quebec in Canada, and across the northern states from Montana east of the continental divide to Maine in the USA. This species has been widely introduced across the continent, including to the states of Washington, Idaho, and Montana west of the Rockies. It has been introduced across southern Alberta from its native range in the Beaver River drainage of the east-central part of the province. It has also been reported as introduced to Europe. The introduction of this species may have a variety of ecosystem impacts including direct and indirect impacts on habitat, and competition with and displacement of native species.

Informal reports of crayfish in the Kootenays, east of the known range of the Signal Crayfish, have occurred in the popular outdoors press and on internet sites but without reference to any particular species. In 2014 and 2015, this author both collected and photographed specimens of the Northern Crayfish in the east Kootenays. It was documented at the following sites: 1) a pond 3.2 km SW of Grasmere, BC 2) Loon Lake, 1.8 km NW of Grasmere, BC.

There appears to be no reference in the formal literature to the occurrence of Northern Crayfish in British Columbia. The E-Fauna BC photographic documentation and specimens collected by the author, from the East Kootenays just north of the US border, would seem to be the first confirmation of this species in British Columbia.

The Northern Crayfish inhabits still to moderately flowing waters. Crayfish are most active at night, and require cover in the form of rocks, logs, or dense vegetation to provide daytime refuge from predators.

Note Author: Ian Gardiner

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
COSEWIC
UnlistedUnlistedUnlistedUnlisted
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Photo Sources

Species References

Hobbs, H. H., Jr. 1972. Crayfishes (Astacidae) of North and Middle America. Biota of Freshwater Ecosystems, Identification Manual No. 9. US Environmental Protection Agency: 173pp.

Hobbs, H. H., Jr. 1989. An Illustrated Checklist of the American Crayfishes (Decapoda: Astacidae, Cambaridae, and Parastacidae). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, Number 480. Smithsonian Institution Press: 236pp.

General References


Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2017. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 25/03/2017 10:23:18 PM]
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