Issue Number #38
Issue Date Winter 2007
Number of Articles Online 1 Articles
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Title Extra Hands for renovating crayfish homes
Author Ruth Mollison

What is small and colourful but can only be seen if you to dig six feet down? It's the Mt Arthur burrowing crayfish or to give its correct title Engaeus orramukunna (orramukunna is an aboriginal word for Pipers River)!

This crayfish doesn't live in streams, but creates a moist habitat by digging a burrow down to the water table. An indication that it is present, is a hole in the ground, approximately 5cm wide and perhaps some freshly excavated dirt shaped as a chimney of pellets. However, to take a closer look at the beastie requires a lot of energetic digging, as its burrows can be deep and multi channelled.

The Lilydale Landcare Association has received a federal government envirofund grant to help conserve the habitat of this unusual species of freshwater crayfish in neighbouring properties along a tributary of the Pipers River. The burrows are found in swampy paddocks used for grazing cattle. To prevent trampling of the burrows, and to provide a better habitat, stock will be excluded from areas with burrows, weeds such as willows removed from the creek, and native plants used to replace the weeds.

As this little crayfish only occurs in the area around Mt Arthur it needs all the support it can get to survive: especially as it is now listed as a threatened species.

The Understorey Network recently hosted an Extra Hands field day planting tubestock, to support the Lilydale Landcare Association with suitable plants for revegetation. Participants first went for a walk to Lilydale Falls, to gain an idea of species suitable for planting along the waterway. Following the walk everyone gathered at the Village Green and planted seed into tubes filled with potting soil. Altogether 250 tubes were filled with a range of seeds from lomandra to teatree ? hopefully they will be ready to plant in the ground by Autumn next year, and the burrowing crayfish will thrive in its newly renovated habitat!

Photo: Lee Bowkett and David Mactier planting tubes at Lilydale.

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