Volunteer Opportunity: Crayfish Monitoring Project

Volunteer or donate to support crayfish monitoring project:

This summer, TCWC will be working with Kyla Schmitt (UO Clark Honors College ’25) to collect data on crayfish populations and habitats in the Tryon Creek watershed. The objective of this study is to identify whether invasive crayfish pose a threat to the Tryon Creek watershed and to further contribute to the limited body of literature on the behavior, health, and habitat preferences of signal crayfish in the region.
Invasive crayfish have been documented in water bodies adjacent to the Tryon Creek watershed and are known to cause extensive damage to native ecosystems. Should invasive crayfish species be observed during this project, that finding would springboard further research and work and exemplify the contributions to scientific knowledge of invasive species made possible by community-driven science. 

Kyla is the principal investigator of this project, and the in-field crayfish monitoring volunteer events will be jointly hosted by Kyla and the Tryon Creek Watershed Council. If you are interested in volunteering to support this work, read on! (If you’re just interested in learning about the findings, we will be sharing the results of this study and next steps in fall 2022 or spring 2023.) 

To sign up to help collect this data, please read the below information then fill out this interest form!

No experience is required, and the interest form is not a commitment to participate; it will simply inform our planning process.
This is the first time TCWC has sought this kind of volunteers, and this project is working with limited capacity and scheduling constraints. We thank you for your understanding, as we are shaping the community engagement based on responses. (We do not know, for example, whether there are 6 people who’d like to come out every night possible, or 30 people who only want to come out once each!) 

When:

  • Surveys will begin at dusk, 4-8 nights per month (June through September), and possibly clustered on weekends.
  • Surveys will be 1-3 hours per night dependent on joint availability and preferences. Please keep in mind that a start time around dusk (about 8 or 9 p.m.) means that surveys may run as late as midnight, and schedule accordingly.
    • If you are unable to stay this whole time, however, we still want to hear from you, and we will do our best to accommodate your availability!

Physical nature of the volunteer opportunity:

  • Crayfish surveys will be conducted at dusk as crayfish are nocturnal. This will necessitate transporting gear (possibly up to 25 lbs) while hiking in and out (after dark) from designated survey sites (for example, near bridge crossings in the Tryon Creek State Natural Area).
  • They will also involve accessing the creek by carefully moving up or down hill off-trail, wading, using a dip net, and bending frequently during surveys. 

During surveys:

  • Crayfish will be netted or captured and placed in buckets for ID-ing, counting, and a quick health check; dismembered crayfish parts such as claws or molts will also be logged.
  • Crayfish and habitats will be photographed, and crayfish will be released once the ID and count is complete.
  • At each site, information will be collected on quality of vegetation, substrate classification, habitat type, water depth and width, water temperature, water pH level, and water alkalinity.
  • All of this work is permitted.

Thank you for your interest in this project! If you would like financially support this project, in lieu of (or in addition to) volunteering in-field, please let us know (alexis@tryoncreek.org). Stay tuned for results come this fall or spring 2023!