Biological Invasions

, Volume 8, Issue 8, pp 1621–1628 | Cite as

The rapid spread of rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) with observations on native crayfish declines in Wisconsin (U.S.A.) over the past 130 years

  • Julian D. Olden
  • Julia M. McCarthy
  • Jeffrey T. Maxted
  • William W. Fetzer
  • M. Jake Vander Zanden


The rusty crayfish, Orconectes rusticus, is one of America’s best-known non-indigenous crayfishes, having been identified as extirpating native crayfishes and disrupting local aquatic ecosystems. Over the past 40–50 years, rusty crayfish have spread from its historical range in the Ohio River drainage (U.S.A.), to waters throughout much of Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota and parts of 11 other states, Ontario (Canada) and the Laurentian Great Lakes. Using a comprehensive dataset based on all known historical records and extensive present-day surveys (n = 2775) this study reports on the invasion history of rusty crayfish, with observations on concomitant declines of native crayfishes in Wisconsin over the past 130 years (1870–2004). We found that rusty crayfish occurrences have increased from 7% of all crayfish records collected during the first 20 years of their invasion (1965–1984) to 36% of all records during the last 20 years, and that rusty crayfish have replaced the northern clearwater crayfish (O. propinquus) and virile crayfish (O. virilis) as the most dominant member of the contemporary crayfish fauna. In light of our results we discuss the introduction, establishment and integration phases of the rusty crayfish invasion and provide preliminary predictions of the potential distribution of rusty crayfish in Wisconsin lakes based on critical environmental requirements.


crayfish hybridization freshwater crayfish Orconectes propinquus Orconectes virilis species invasions 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julian D. Olden
    • 1
  • Julia M. McCarthy
    • 1
  • Jeffrey T. Maxted
    • 1
  • William W. Fetzer
    • 1
  • M. Jake Vander Zanden
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Aquatic and Fishery SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattle

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