Will ponds help save the native crayfish?

The crayfish native to the UK is the White-clawed or Atlantic Stream Crayfish

The crayfish native to the UK is the White-clawed or Atlantic Stream Crayfish

Our native crayfish, the White-clawed Crayfish, mainly lives in rivers – but it can also be found in limy ponds.

In rivers it has largely disappeared from southern England because of crayfish plague – replaced by the American Signal Crayfish.

So now a plan to help save the English populations is beginning to come to fruition as crayfish lovers rescue remnant crayfish populations and move them to isolated ponds and pools (see the Guardian).

And this project emphasises one of the great virtues of ponds: they can be isolated from the nastiness going on in the world around.

This is the essence of our Million Ponds Project where we’re creating ponds isolated from the all-pervasive pollution which affects so many ponds, lakes and rivers. By putting new ponds in places where they are filled by clean water – from woodland, old meadows, heathland, unfertilised grassland, and by making sure that the ponds are not connected to streams or ditches which are usually polluted, we can quickly create something now rare in much of the landscape: clean unpolluted freshwater.

In the case of the crayfish, the ponds and pools are being used to create another kind of isolation: from the disease carried by the Signal Crayfish population – so that maybe one day, if native crayfish become immune or the Signal’s die out,  the native species can recolonise the places they have now been eliminated from.

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