03 July 2018

Vogt and colleagues, 2018

Vogt G, Dorn NJ, Pfeiffer M, Lukhaup C, Williams BW, Schulz R, Schrimpf A. 2018. In-depth investigation of the species problem and taxonomic status of marbled crayfish, the first asexual decapod crustacean. BioRxiv: 26 June 2018. https://doi.org/10.1101/356170 [Unreviewed pre-print]


The marbled crayfish is the only obligately parthenogenetic decapod crustacean and a novel research model and invasive animal on three continents. It is regarded either as a parthenogenetic form of slough crayfish Procambarus fallax or as a separate species named Procambarus virginalis. In order to investigate the species question of this unusual crayfish in detail we have identified the similarities and differences in morphology, life history, genetics, behaviour, ecology and biogeography between marbled crayfish and P. fallax. We have investigated specimens from natural habitats, laboratory colonies and museum collections and performed a meta-analysis of our data and published data. Our COI based molecular tree with 27 Cambaridae confirms closest relationship of marbled crayfish with P. fallax. Marbled crayfish and P. fallax are similar with respect to morphological characters, coloration and body proportions, but differ considerably with respect to body size, fertility and longevity. The mitochondrial genes of both crayfish are similar, but some nuclear genomic features are markedly different. Both crayfish are eurytopic and have two major annual recruitment periods, but marbled crayfish show different population structure and higher invasiveness. Marbled crayfish occur in boreal to tropical habitats of Europe, Madagascar and Japan, but P. fallax is confined to the subtropics and tropics of the southeastern USA. Laboratory experiments suggest reproductive isolation of both crayfish. The application of the Evolutionary Genetic Species Concept for asexuals to all available data supports raising marbled crayfish from "forma" to species rank. A determination key is provided to discriminate Procambarus virginalis, the first asexual decapod species, from its most likely parent species P. fallax.

Keywords: None provided.

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