The unreliable concept of native range as applied to the distribution of the rusty crayfish (Faxonius rusticus) in North America.
The concept of native range in invasion biology is difficult to define since, in many cases, this type of range is unknown and cannot be determined. We investigate the uncertainties related to this concept by focusing on the distribution of Faxonius rusticus (Girard, 1852), also known as the rusty crayfish, which is perceived as possibly the worst invasive crayfish species in North America. In this study, we undertake a comprehensive literature review, which includes 430 studies published between 1852 and 2018, in order to analyze the native and introduced ranges of this species. The rusty crayfish was reported to occur in 33 states in the U.S.A. and 3 Canadian Provinces. Ten of these U.S. states and one Canadian Province have been included multiple times in both the native and the non-native ranges of this crayfish. The confusion regarding the limits and history of the native range of the rusty crayfish has implications for the conservation of this species in various jurisdictions. This review also demonstrates that even for intensely studied species perceived as invasive, we often do not have a clear understanding of essential concepts such as native and non-native range.