Loughman wondered why two species were reported for the Tug River, since it is unusual for more than one species to occupy a specific niche within an ecosystem.
When Loughman and Welsh collected crayfish specimens in the Tug and its West Virginia tributaries, they at first thought they were dealing with the Big Water species. Thoma, who simultaneously collected species from Kentucky tributaries of the Tug, believed the same thing.
Loughman's suspicion and, later, his discovery that they were dealing with a separate Tug Valley species cleared up the picture.
Naming the new species after the Hatfield clan might have turned a few strait-laced scientific heads, but Loughman said the proposal sailed through the peer-review process without a shred of resistance. The Tug Valley crayfish, Cambarus hatfieldi, officially took its place in the scientific lexicon when the group's paper was published in Zootaxa on Dec. 19.
Loughman's next project -- if funding comes through -- will focus on the Teays Valley area between Charleston and Huntington, where two yet-unnamed species of blue crayfish are known to exist.
Reach John McCoy at johnmc...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1231.