Biological Invasions

, Volume 19, Issue 7, pp 2207–2217 | Cite as

Ecosystem of Caspian Sea threatened by pet-traded non-indigenous crayfish

  • Nikita Vodovsky
  • Jiří Patoka
  • Antonín Kouba
Original Paper


Freshwater ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to biological invasions; the aquatic animal pet trade has been recognized as a significant pathway of introductions. Crayfish are considered a model group of traded organisms with a series of highly successful species already established in the wild, having the potential to negatively influence both indigenous crayfish species (ICS) as well as alter occupied ecosystems. Eastern Europe includes the entire native ranges of indigenous Astacus leptodactylus sensu lato and A. pachypus. This region has been largely overlooked and considered relatively safe from the adverse impacts of non-indigenous crayfish species (NICS). In this study, we evaluated the crayfish pet trade in the Lower Volga Region with special emphasis on Astrakhan, the biggest city of Russian Federation in the region located just in the delta of Volga River, thus being a potential gateway of introductions to the Caspian Sea and adjacent freshwaters. The local pet trade involves 12 NICS. Considering their origin, availability, probability of establishment, invasiveness and further aspects, Procambarus fallax f. virginalis, P. clarkii and Cherax destructor are considered potentially the most problematic, including transmission of diseases like crayfish plague caused by Aphanomyces astaci or white spot syndrome virus. Taking this information as a whole, the availability of NICS with a high probability of overlapping the entire range of European ICS means that attention is warranted. Further research is needed to corroborate the abilities of NICS and their associated diseases to withstand specific conditions of the Caspian Sea as well as the adjacent Black and Azov Seas, all possessing different degrees of elevated salinity.


Aquarium Invasiveness Ornamental animal Pet trade Russian Federation Salinity 



This study was supported by the Internal Grant Agency of the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague “CIGA” (No. 20152007), and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic—projects “CENAKVA” (No. CZ.1.05/2.1.00/01.0024) and “CENAKVA II” (No. LO1205 under the NPU I program). We thank Helen Belyaeva from “Caspian Floating University” Foundation for Training and Research, Astrakhan, Russia, for assistance with establishment of the team of authors. We appreciate constructive comments of two anonymous referees. This article is dedicated to Dr. Julian D. Reynolds, a recognized member of the astacological community, for his enthusiasm, friendship and long-term support.

Supplementary material

10530_2017_1433_MOESM1_ESM.docx (264 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 264 kb)


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Caspian Branch of the P. P. Shirshov Institute of OceanologyRussian Academy of SciencesAstrakhanRussia
  2. 2.Department of Zoology and Fisheries, Faculty of Agrobiology, Food and Natural ResourcesCzech University of Life Sciences PraguePrague-SuchdolCzech Republic
  3. 3.Faculty of Fisheries and Protection of Waters, South Bohemian Research Center of Aquaculture and Biodiversity of HydrocenosesUniversity of South Bohemia in České BudějoviceVodňanyCzech Republic

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