Chucholl C, Wendler F. 2017. Positive selection of beautiful invaders: long-term persistence and bio-invasion risk of freshwater crayfish in the pet trade. Biological Invasions 19(1): 197-208. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10530-016-1272-5
After interest in keeping crayfish (Crustacea, Decapoda, Astacida) in home aquaria peaked in the mid-2000s, the aquarium trade has become a novel introduction pathway for non-native crayfish species in Germany. Here, we provide an update on the ornamental crayfish trade approximately one decade after the ‘crayfish hype’ to explore the long-term implications in terms of bio-invasion risk. Specifically, species’ availability in e-commerce and potential invasiveness were assessed and compared to previous studies. Morphological and ecological traits of the offered species were compiled and related to their long-term availability (covering 2005–2015). In July 2015, a total of 31 online shops offered 28 crayfish species, which represents a decline of 24% in species diversity compared to the late 2000s. The estimated rate of import of new species has considerably flattened and approaches pre-hype values (<1 species year−1). However, the risk associated with the offered species, as assessed by a risk screening tool, has not decreased compared to the late 2000s. Long-term availability in the trade was primarily determined by bright coloration, the ability to reproduce under warm aquarium conditions, and a preference for lentic habitats. Species featuring such traits are likely to persist in the aquarium trade and include four high-risk species, most notably invasive and crayfish plague-carrying red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) and Marmorkrebs (Procambarus fallax f. virginalis). Persistent propagule pressure from aquaria has substantially contributed to the establishment of both species in Germany, stressing the need for more effective pathway management.
Keywords: aquarium trade • Crustacea • risk assessment • pre-introduction selection