Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

The redclaw crayfish: a prominent aquaculture species with invasive potential in tropical and subtropical biodiversity hotspots.

Abstract

The redclaw crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus; hereafter redclaw), native to northern Australia and southern New Guinea, is among the largest freshwater decapods. It matures early and is considered highly prolific as females may lay over one thousand eggs in a single clutch. Despite generally preferring slow-moving streams in its native range, it has a wide environmental tolerance, making it capable of establishing populations when introduced to a wide range of other conditions and habitats. These biological and ecological features render it a highly suitable and popular species for aquaculture worldwide, being the second most important crayfish species economically (after the red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii). Adding to that, its unique coloration fuels demand and value among aquarium enthusiasts, making it attractive for the aquarium pet trade. Today, redclaw is widely translocated (67 countries/territories) and various established wild populations (22 countries) have been reported on every continent except Antarctica. Information on its potential or observed impacts, however, is sparse and often anecdotal. To address this gap, this comprehensive review compiles all available information on this species, covering its taxonomy and description, biology and ecology, native and non-native ranges accompanied with documented introduction pathways. Built upon these, we conducted biological and socio-economic classification and species distribution modelling. We reveal a lack of thorough impact assessments for this species despite sufficient indications of major observable impacts at local scales. We call attention to the importance of managing the use of this prominent introduced species in aquaculture and aquarium pet trade.