C. bartonii was the first crayfish to be described from North America, when Johan Christian Fabricius published it under the name Astacus Bartonii in his 1798 work Supplementum entomologiae systematicae. The locality where his specimen was captured is not known, but is thought to be near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
C. bartonii lives in fast–flowing, cool, rocky streams as well as shallow lakes, and is found in the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, and in the United States from Maine to Alabama. In the south of its range, C. bartoni is restricted to the Appalachian Mountains and their foothills.
Several subspecies of C. bartonii have been recognised, but it is unclear how advisable this is, and work is ongoing to determine patterns of infraspecific variation.
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