Biological Invasions

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 125–141 | Cite as

Invaders for sale: trade and determinants of introduction of ornamental freshwater crayfish

  • Christoph Chucholl
Original Paper


The trade of live ornamental freshwater crayfish has grown rapidly in the last decade and has become the major pathway for new non-indigenous crayfish species (NICS) introductions into Europe. Here, I report on the German ornamental crayfish trade, the main importer of non-indigenous crayfish into Europe. In total, 120 NICS have been available as ornamental aquarium species. One hundred and five species originate from North or Central America and are, therefore, suspected to be crayfish plague vectors. The import rate since 2005 was estimated to be seven new species per year. Despite many species being imported, only eleven species were found to be very common in the trade. In 2009, 16 online shops offered at least 37 NICS. The availability, price, and size of the offered species were used to predict their introduction status. Multiple binary logistic regression analysis showed that species’ availability and size were the principal predictors of the likelihood of being recorded as introduced from aquaria. NICS introduced from aquaria were found to be more available and larger than those present only in aquaria, and their potential invasiveness was also higher. The findings are consistent with the propagule pressure hypothesis in that a greater availability is likely related to more release events, and large species may be released more frequently as a result of overpopulating or outgrowing their aquaria. Efforts to mitigate the risk of further harmful crayfish introductions from aquaria should aim to drastically reduce the availability of high-risk species.


Live animal trade Introduction pathway Alien crayfish Aquarium discards 



I would like to thank R. Pekny and C. Lukhaup for their help with data collection and kind support. I am especially grateful to D.M. Holdich, P. Dehus, L. Johnson, and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on the manuscript. A part of this study was funded by the scholarship programme of the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU).

Supplementary material

10530_2012_273_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (20 kb)
Online Resource 1. Year of import, general availability, and presumed introduction pathways of freshwater crayfish in the German pet trade. Introduction pathway abbreviations are as follows: C = consumption trade, FB = fishing bait, and S = deliberate stocking. Please note that the list includes probable synonyms and misidentified specimens: */# = presumably the same species; $ = status unsure, probably Ca. shufeldtii and Ca. schmitti; § = probably misidentified. The main references are as follows: 1 = Pekny and Lukhaup 2005, 2 = present study, 3 = Lukhaup and Pekny 2005, and 4 = Holdich et al. 2009. Supplementary material 1 (PDF 21 kb)
10530_2012_273_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (18 kb)
Online Resource 2. Mean price class, online availability, potential invasiveness (FI-ISK score), natural habitat, and native and introduced range of non-indigenous crayfish species offered by 16 online shops in 2009. N.A. means that the price was not depicted or no available information on the natural habitat. Supplementary material 2 (PDF 18 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Experimental Ecology (Bio 3)University of UlmUlmGermany
  2. 2.Fisheries Research Station BWLangenargenGermany

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