11 December 2013

New name, new problems

The scientific name for Marmorkrebs continues to pose problems. First, the problem was that it didn’t have one. Then, Martin and colleagues (2010) proposed Procambarus fallax f. virginalis. The good news is that this name has been adopted by the scientific community. The bad news is that people are shortening it.

Because I am interested in the biology of both the sexual slough crayfish and the asexual Marmorkrebs, I have Google Scholar alerts set up for both. Recently, Google Scholar sent me a new “Procambarus fallax” alert for a new paper in Ecology and Evolution. The species appear in Table 1 and in the supplemental material.

I saw that the crayfish in the paper were bought in a pet store in the Netherlands, which made me wonder. The asexual Marmorkrebs are reportedly common in the European pet trade, but it was possible that this was the sexual form.

I emailed the authors, and co-author Menno Soes replied:

The examined specimen was the asexual form. In Dutch we call it marmerkreeft. I’ve never noticed the sexual form in Dutch pet shops.

Because this paper was about species living with crayfish, this distinction between slough crayfish and Marmorkrebs could change the interpretation slightly. If it was the sexual form, slough crayfish, it was conceivable that it was caught in the wild in Florida and shipped to Europe. If it was the asexual form, Marmorkrebs, this would be much less likely.

This isn’t the first time this has happened, either. Gallardo and Aldridge (2013) also used the species name Procambarus fallax alone, which significantly affects the interpretation of their results.

The moral of the story is: Authors and editors, please make sure to use the full species name for Marmorkrebs, Procambarus fallax f. virginalis, every time!


Gallardo B, Aldridge DC. 2013. The ‘dirty dozen’: socio-economic factors amplify the invasion potential of 12 high-risk aquatic invasive species in Great Britain and Ireland. Journal of Applied Ecology 50(3): 757–766. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.12079

Martin P, Dorn NJ, Kawai T, van der Heiden C, Scholtz G. 2010. The enigmatic Marmorkrebs (marbled crayfish) is the parthenogenetic form of Procambarus fallax (Hagen, 1870). Contributions to Zoology 79(3): 107-118. http://dpc.uba.uva.nl/ctz/vol79/nr03/art03

Mestre A, Aguilar-Alberola JA, Baldry D, Balkis H, Ellis A, Gil-Delgado JA, Grabow K, Klobučar G, Kouba A, Maguire I, Martens A, Mülayim A, Rueda J, Scharf B, Soes M, S. Monrós J, Mesquita-Joanes F. 2013. Invasion biology in non-free-living species: interactions between abiotic (climatic) and biotic (host availability) factors in geographical space in crayfish commensals (Ostracoda, Entocytheridae). Ecology and Evolution: in press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ece3.897

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