Welcome to the University of Idaho’s Crayfish and Mercury in the Columbia River Basin Project, we’re glad you’re here!
We are conducting a multi-year study throughout the Columbia River Basin to test for levels of mercury in native and nonnative Crayfish.
The crayfish will be collected by citizen scientists (volunteers) throughout the Columbia River Basin.
Tail tissues of the crayfish will be tested for mercury contamination at the University of Idaho’s lab.
University of Idaho students will display crayfish and mercury distribution throughout the Basin using a geospatial analysis.
Crayfish are benthic invertebrates which makes them a great indicator species.
There are several native and non-native crayfish species located throughout the Columbia River Basin but few studies have been conducted on crayfish (particularly invasive crayfish) in the Pacific Northwest.
Crayfish are quite resilient but native species in the Pacific Northwest, such as the Signal Crayfish, are threatened by invasive species like the Red Swamp Crayfish.
Crayfish are tasty, charismatic, and fun to collect!
Mercury is a naturally occurring metal that is toxic at low concentrations and can affect the body and brain in both humans and animals.
In 2017, the EPA detected mercury in fish sampled from the Mid-Columbia River Basin.
Human activities such as mining, industrial waste, and other nonpoint sources of pollution like landfill runoff can release mercury into waterways, where it collects in sediment and aquatic life.
Once uptake of mercury occurs in an animal (like a crayfish!) or human, biomagnification will occur.