You mean just shrimps? Because hobbyists are certainly doing so with fish, no?
I meant this: good luck to anyone trying to legally get their hands on any Squirrel Chimney Cave shrimp or Kentucky cave shrimp.
This is the only example I'm aware of re: public involvement in a U.S. conservation/restoration project expressly targeting freshwater shrimp (with California's Syncaris pacifica
, one of only a few surface-water atyids occurring in this country, and the only one in Pacific drainages of the contiguous western U.S.): http://www.fws.gov/capartners/Shrimp-Club.htm
Certainly there's a lot more potential for hobbyists to at least establish their own colonies if we're talking about species like the (so far unrestricted) imports from Sulawesi.
I wish I could tell you that the 'professionals' are doing significantly better than your vision of hobbyists in this regard...I cannot.
Speaking as a "professional", I guess, who's coming from the other side of things (molecular phylogeny of Macrobrachium
), I'd have to agree. I don't know of any zoos, for instance, with freshwater shrimp conservation programs, and the work on the ground, with the exception of some recent efforts to start reintroductions or build "shrimp ladders" (like salmon ladders) for amphidromous species in a few places in West Africa* and the Neotropics, really hasn't gone beyond survey work and identifying conservation priorities. Not that this isn't valuable – for instance, we've learned the unsettling fact that the Malili lake system hosts not only flowerhorns
but at least 13 other species of alien fish, most of them trans-oceanic arrivals to Sulawesi with the global aquarium and aquaculture trades.
Anything that's not an easily anthropomorphized and photogenic big mammal has problems generating any conservation interest above nil, so I do consider it fortunate, in one sense, that so many freshwater shrimp have captured hobbyists' fancies.
* – See Projet Crevette
for one active project highlighting the unintended consequences of dam construction in tropical West Africa (local extinction of amphidromous Macrobrachium
, which need two-way connectivity to the ocean to maintain long-term populations, upstream of the dams, followed by population explosions of the freshwater snails they prey on – and dramatic upticks in human schistosomiasis infection, caused by parasitic trematode that use the snails as intermediate hosts).