16 August 2011

An Achilles’ heel?

ResearchBlogging.orgLast week, at my Ecological Society of America talk, one of the questions asked afterwards was, “Could the fact that Marmorkrebs are genetically identical be exploited to control introduced, unwanted populations?”

I said, “No.”

One of the things I admire about crayfish is that they are tough little survivors. Unfortunately, this means that they are hard to get a handle on once they’re loose.

I think it’s fair to say that the weapons used to control crayfish populations are blunt instruments. There have been culls to lower the numbers. Dams to try to stop the spread (Dana et al., 2011). And an approach that might be best summarized by this famous quote by Sigourney Weaver:

Peay and colleagues (2006) have conducted a number of trials with broad applications of biocides. These are the freshwater equivalent of nuking everything from orbit. Their results have been variable at best in eliminating crayfish from water bodies.

We are so far from any kind of control that targets crayfish in general that something that targets Marmorkrebs in particular is a pipe dream.


Dana ED, García-de-Lomas J, González R, Ortega F. 2011. Effectiveness of dam construction to contain the invasive crayfish Procambarus clarkii in a Mediterranean mountain stream. Ecological Engineering 37:1607-1613. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoleng.2011.06.014

Peay S, Hiley PD, Collen P, Martin I. 2006. Biocide treatment of ponds in Scotland to eradicate signal crayfish. Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems 380-381: 1363-1379. http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/kmae:2006041

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