Biological Invasions

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 515–521 | Cite as

Freshwater crayfish invasions: former crayfish invader Galician crayfish hands title “invasive” over to new invader spiny-cheek crayfish

  • Philipp Emanuel HirschEmail author
Original Paper


Biological invasions are a major threat to global biodiversity. Invasive freshwater crayfish in that context are especially prominent for their negative effects on both ecosystem integrity and native crayfish. However, some systems may have supported a crayfish species not originally native to the system without perceivable negative consequences for the ecosystem while other invasive crayfish species may constitute a major threat to ecosystem stability. Here I present an example how two crayfish, the spiny-cheek and the Galician crayfish both by researchers and governmental agencies considered non-native differ in their threats to the native ecosystem. Whereas the spiny-cheek crayfish is a recent potentially disease-transmitting and still spreading invader with high local densities the Galician crayfish might be part of the lake’s fauna since several hundred years, appears in lower densities and is unlikely to be a vector of disease. Therefore, regardless of the Galician crayfish’s actual date of introduction it is thus a rather “old and integrated” invader, which is now being faced and itself potentially threatened by the emergence of a “new and dangerous” invader: the spiny-cheek crayfish. This also exemplifies that in the face of often insufficient scientific information about dates of species introductions care should be taken in postulating species as invasive and dangerous without any form of risk assessment for their impact on the ecosystem.


Astacus leptodactylus Lake Constance Historic introductions Multiple invasions Orconectes limosus Species displacement 



I would like to thank C. Chucholl, M. Hirning, M. Lohr, A. Kunzmann, S. Pittlick, D. Schleuter, C. Schliehe, A. Weber, and many more for their help in the field. I appreciated helpful comments on the manuscript from J.B. Logue. I also thank P. Dehus, R. Eckmann, A. Lunardon, R. Kistler, M. Kugler, P. Rey and all fishermen for invaluable information on crayfish in the lake and P. Fischer for guidance and support. The work was partially funded by the INTERREG III A project ‘Aquatic Neobiota in Lake Constance and its tributaries’.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Limnological Institute University of ConstanceKonstanzGermany
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolution, LimnologyUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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