Cambarus cryptodytes (Dougherty Plain Cave Crayfish) is an obligate inhabitant of groundwater habitats (i.e., a stygobiont) with troglomorphic adaptations in the Floridan aquifer system of southwestern Georgia and adjacent Florida panhandle, particularly in the Dougherty Plain and Marianna Lowlands. Documented occurrences of Dougherty Plain Cave Crayfish are spatially distributed as 2 primary clusters separated by a region where few caves and springs have been documented; however, the paucity of humanly accessible karst features in this intermediate region has inhibited investigation of the species' distribution. To work around this constraint, we employed bottle traps to sample for Dougherty Plain Cave Crayfish and other groundwater fauna in 18 groundwater-monitoring wells that access the Floridan aquifer system in 10 counties in southwestern Georgia. We captured 32 Dougherty Plain Cave Crayfish in 9 wells in 8 counties between September 2014 and August 2015. We detected crayfish at depths ranging from 17.9 m to 40.6 m, and established new county records for Early, Miller, Mitchell, and Seminole counties in Georgia, increasing the number of occurrences in Georgia from 8 to 17 sites. In addition, a new US Geological Survey (USGS) Hydrologic Unit Code 8 (HUC8) watershed record was established for the Spring Creek watershed. These new records fill in the distribution gap between the 2 previously known clusters in Georgia and Jackson County, FL. Furthermore, this study demonstrates that deployment of bottle traps in groundwater-monitoring wells can be an effective approach to presence—absence surveys of stygobionts, especially in areas where surface access to groundwater is limited.
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Vol. 16 • No. 2