A digger crayfish (Creaserinus fodiens), one of the few species of burrowing crayfish found at the Ojibway Prairie Nature Reserve.
Since graduating two years ago from Fleming College, I have worked hands-on with a lot of different species including turtles, birds, rodents, and many different plant species. But as Field Tecnhician on the Ojibway Prairie Reptile Recovery Program in southwestern Ontario, this is the first time I’ve been able to focus on conservation efforts for one of my favourite groups of animals – snakes! Little did I know that this work was going to end up including decapods as well, coincidentally another one of my favourite groups.
These mud ‘chimneys’ often mark the entrances of terrestrial crayfish burrows.
Aside from their role in creating snake hibernacula, crayfish serve numerous other functions within their environments.
- Crayfish are voracious scavengers and opportunistic omnivores.
- They are important predators and are even considered keystone species in some ecosystems.
- They are both primary and secondary consumers, as well as prey for larger carnivores such as raccoons.
- Their place in multiple trophic levels, (multiple positions in the food chain) means they play an important role in the flow of energy through the food web.
- They act as natural indicators of environmental pollution in freshwater ecosystems, and are one of the 27 groups of animals collected in benthic invertebrate sampling for aquatic monitoring in Ontario. They may be small, but these little creatures pull their weight!
Field Technician – Ojibway Prairie Reptile Recovery
Kelly started working with Wildlife Preservation Canada as an intern, and is now a field technician. She has worked in reptile conservation throughout Ontario, and has also assisted on population studies of skinks and snakes on islands in northern Madagascar. Kelly is a graduate of Fleming College, where she received her diploma in ecosystem management.