Freshwater Tiger Crab

Austrothelphusa tigrina

Identification

Freshwater Tiger Crab, Holthuisana tigrina

A relatively large, riverine, freshwater crab, most easily recognised by the distinctive black stripes on the carapace of adults.

Habitat & range

It is so far only known from the headwaters of One Mile Creek, a tributary of the Alice River, Cape York. Like other Freshwater Crabs they have abbreviated larval development and give birth to juvenile crabs. They are apparently locally abundant during the wet season (November to April), when they are often conspicuous on clean sandy substrates, and may wander around out of water. During dry season when the river stops flowing, they occupy sandy burrows amongst roots of fringing Melaleuca trees, and are presumed to plug their burrows to prevent drying out.

Potential threats

The creek system in which it is found runs through pastoral leasehold and lies largely within the Alice River Mining Field. Gold mining and collection for the pet shop trade are foreseeable threats to the welfare of this crab. The current status of populations is not known, and we have little knowledge of its biology and population size. Extended periods of drought as a result of climate change could prove damaging as such tropical species probably need an annual monsoonal season. Research is needed to determine the status and requirements of this, and other northern species, to ensure that the population is managed and conserved.

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