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From garden slaters, forest hoppers, and freshwater shrimps... to spiny mountain crayfishes – Queensland has a wealth of non-marine crustaceans.
Queensland has a diverse range of freshwater and terrestrial environments, from outback deserts to tropical rainforests. Although crustaceans are primarily a marine group, there are many species of freshwater crayfish and crabs. Desert specialists, such as the remarkable Shield Shrimp, have eggs that can survive many years in the parched desert clay before hatching in their thousands when the rains finally come.
Common freshwater and terrestrial crustaceans of Queensland include:
Terrestrial amphipods are tiny shrimp-like crustaceans that are common in suburban environments under logs and leaf litter. They are commonly referred to as ‘lawn prawns’ or ‘carpet prawns’ because, after rain periods, they can emerge in the hundreds to invade carpets, lawns, pet bowls and swimming pools.
A number of crustaceans are adapted to life in dry environments. For example, shield shrimps such as Triops australiensis live in inland regions, and their populations explode after rains. They can then be found teeming in temporary pools and water-filled clay pans. Another example is the Inland Freshwater Crab, Austrothelphusa transversa. This crab occurs in semi-arid regions of central and northern Australia, where it constructs burrows up to a metre in depth in the banks of rivers, creeks, and ponds.
Australia has two major types of freshwater crayfish – the smooth and the spiny. Smooth crays, such as Cherax species, are relatively common in lowland rivers and streams. However, spiny crays, such as Euastacus species, are restricted to mountainous regions, where they construct burrows near watercourses.
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