Assistant Professor of Biology (Zoology/Ecology) Dr. Zachary Loughman made the news again this spring as the Ohio Division of Wildlife discovered a new species. He was contacted due to his expertise in crayfish identification and research and is an international expert in this field. The news item, as reported by Channel 5 (Cleveland) reporter Kaylyn Hlavaty is posted below:
Professor Loughman Called in for Crayfish Discovery
MONROE COUNTY, Ohio — The Ohio Division of Wildlife announced the discovery of a new species in Ohio: the blue crayfish, which Ohio researchers have been searching for since 1975.
The colorful crayfish was discovered in eastern Ohio on May 19 during an expedition in Monroe County led by Laura S. Hughes, who has spent years searching for the species in Ohio while conducting a citizen science project.
Hughes and her team found a small population of the species—making it Ohio’s most colorful crayfish and possibly the rarest.
Researchers will now work to document the total number of blue crayfish and determine its conservation status in Ohio. The blue crayfish only lives in hillside springs and seeps and is vulnerable to changes in groundwater conditions.
The Ohio Division of Wildlife said the blue crayfish has been spotted in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina. According to wildlife experts, the Ohio River has been a barrier to the dispersal of the blue crayfish, but it appears it crossed into Ohio prior to the Continental Glaciation and formation of the Ohio River approximately 2 million years ago.
The discovery included Dr. Zachary “Zac” Loughman of West Liberty University, Mael Glon and Heather Glon of the Ohio State University, Roger Thoma of the MidWest Biodiversity Institute and Kelly Capuzzi of the Ohio EPA.
Selected as West Virginia’s 2014 Professor of the Year by the Faculty Merit Foundation, Loughman is also a WLU alumnus. His research focuses on the natural history, taxonomy, and conservation of North American crayfishes and he has named five species of crayfish. He has many blue crayfish in his WLU laboratory.
Loughman’s laboratory is one of the few in the country that focused solely on astacology, the academic study of crayfishes (crayfish biology). To date, Loughman and his students have sampled crayfish in 13 states, and over 3,000 streams across the eastern and central United States.
Also the co-director of the MA/MS in biology, for more information on Dr. Loughman and his work, please click here.
To view the WTOV-Channel 9 (Steubenville) interview with Dr. Loughman, please click here.