'Stumptown scud' scavenger hunt: Scientists seek unique Portland creature

A species of sideswimmer (Ramellogammarus similimanus) freshwater crustacean native to Portland, Oregon. Photo by Michael Durham, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo.

Researchers are trying to save a tiny friend of the Portland aquatic ecosystem thanks to a grant that will allow them to track the creature by locating its DNA.

Nicknamed the "Stumptown scud", a small crustacean that plays a big part in cleaning up Portland waterways may be at risk due to the Rose City's swing toward further urbanization.

  • Its real name? "Ramellogammarus similimanus"

“It is quite a special thing that Portland metro apparently has its own species that occurs nowhere else in the world,” said Dr. David Shepherdson, Oregon Zoo deputy conservation manager. “This kinder, gentler detection method will be available to provide important information needed to develop conservation plans for Portland’s hometown species.”

The $25,000 grant from the Oregon Zoo Foundation will go in part to Oregon State researchers for work toward a conservation plan for the fingernail-sized species.

“[This approach] allows us to identify populations without harming the animals we’re studying,” said OSU research associate William Gerth, the leader of the study. “The only other way is to collect, kill and examine them under microscope. If the species is vulnerable, like this one may be, that’s not good.”

Read more about the creature and the upcoming study here.

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