The introduced yabby, however, is highly mobile and occurs naturally in temporary water bodies.
Given that the yabby already occurs within 500 metres of the Ellen Brook Nature Reserve, these preliminary findings suggest that the beleaguered western swamp turtle will soon come into contact with a new predator, one to which it seems quite vulnerable.
Future management plans for the swamp turtle will need to take into account this imminent yabby invasion of the turtle's habitat.
Unskilled yabbiers such as I need not want for a plate full of tasty crustaceans, however, because more than 400 tonnes of yabby (Cherax destructor) is produced commercially in Australia each year.
Granted, the Australian yabby industry is small compared with many overseas freshwater crayfish industries.
Dr Dean Jerry from the CSIRO Livestock Industries Pastoral Research Station near Armidale in New South Wales, says yabby farming is based on wild animals that haven't been improved in any significant way.
The success of such programs for other aquaculture species, such as Atlantic salmon, redclaw, prawns (see Ecos 107) and oysters -- where an average increase in growth rate of about 10% per generation has been achieved -- hints at the potential for the yabby industry.
To kick-start a domestication and improved production program for yabbies, Jerry and his CSIRO colleagues, Dr Ian Purvis and Dr Laurie Piper, evaluated five yabby populations for commercially important traits.
As comprehensive pedigree information will need to be recorded during the selective breeding program, Jerry has been looking at ways to improve the identification of yabby families and individuals.
To protect the Australian yabby industry once selectively bred yabbies have been developed, Jerry and his colleagues are considering trying to make them sterile.
Because the cross is created using a smaller relative of the yabby, it is possible that the hybrid may not grow as fast or as big as the improved strain of yabby being developed at CSIRO.
Because the chromosomes in a triploid yabby cannot pair up during meiosis, viable sperm and egg cells cannot be produced, rendering the animal sterile.