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Saturday, December 27, 2014 - 9:53pm

UT Tyler set to study a potential endangered species


POSTED: Monday, April 7, 2014 - 6:04pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 9:38am

The University of Texas at Tyler received a grant to study a threatened species. The crayfish. Now this fish is not to be confused with the southern favorite food crawfish. The crayfish though is a wild species not one you particularly eat. 

 The Department of Biology at UT Tyler received about a $35,000 grant to study painted crayfish in East Texas.

"We are going to see whether or not they are endangered and if it's not accurate than yay the crayfish but if it is accurate what can we do about it," said undergraduate student Sam Cline.

The crayfish is being considered to be put on the endangered list by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. The department's job is to find out the conservation status of this species and whether or not it needs to be listed and protected.

"None have been collected in Texas so it has a very restricted range and it's very uncommon. We figure out what habitat it needs so the state and federal government can use the information to make conservation decisions, " said Dept. of Biology Associate Professor Dr. Lance Williams.

The team says 9 times of 10 the reason why species are extinct is because of us.

"When we see species declining, it's an indicator that something is potentially wrong in the environment so is there a pollution problem in the river that we need to watch for, are there  reasons why things disappear and go extinct," said Dr. Williams.  

The team including graduate and undergraduate students, will try and find the crayfish.

"In Texas we mainly find it around Cattle Lake area, Cypress Creek so north of here," said Dr. Williams.

They'll collect data.

"We will be putting out traps that we bait, we will use sweep net sampling we may even do some electric fishing," said Dr. Williams.  

Along with collecting samples and catching the crayfish, the team is going to build map layers to find the species. They use these types of maps a lot for conservation biology projects. They will create models to give them the best estimate of where the crayfish are. This gives conservation managers an idea of where to target their efforts and what parcels of land to focus on. They use past records to see where they can find the species and the maps can cover large areas. After they make their models of where the crayfish are located, they will send reports back to U.S. fish and Wildlife Services and Texas Parks and Wildlife so they can decide if this crayfish needs to be listed and endangered.

"This allows us to take the points we visited, where we found the species and then use those points to forecast other areas that we haven't visited and where we think the species also occurs. So then you take your field crew to that particular sample fort and see if the model really works," said Asst. Professor of Biology Joshua Banta.

The team hopes they can get to the bottom of why this fish is becoming non existent

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What? Third paragraph. Looks as though they need to stop studying crayfish and go back to learning English.

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