JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Wildlife advocates want endangered species protections extended to a 2-inch crustacean found only in one county in Florida's Panhandle.
The Center for Biological Diversity said Monday that it had filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking protection for the wingtail crayfish.
The crayfish is found only in Gulf County, in seasonally flooded freshwater areas in the flatwoods west and south of Wewahitchka.
A scientist at the center says the crayfish's wetlands habitat is important for flood prevention and water purification. Tierra Curry says the crayfish is threatened by development, water pollution and the effects of climate change.
Crayfish also are called crawdads, crawfish, mudbugs, crawly bottoms and river lobsters. Scientists say they're important to the ecosystem because the burrows they dig create shelter for other animals.
Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.