Austropotamobius pallipes (freshwater white-clawed crayfish )
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Austropotamobius pallipes (Lereboullet, 1858)
Preferred Common Name
- freshwater white-clawed crayfish
Other Scientific Names
- Astacus pallipes
- Atlantoastacus pallipes Lereboullet, 1858
International Common Names
- English: Atlantic stream crayfish; river crayfish; white-clawed crayfish
- French: écrevisse à pattes blanches; écrevisse à pieds blancs; écrevisse à pieds pales; écrevisse pallipède
Local Common Names
- Germany: dohlenkrebs
- Italy: ganbaro dai piedi bianchi
OverviewTop of page
Austropotamobius pallipes is native to Europe and has been designated a vulnerable species with special care recommended for its management (exploitation and conservation). A. pallipes is Britain's only native crayfish. The introduction of the freshwater red-swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii), water pollution, poaching and disease all appear to threaten white-clawed crayfish populations throughout their distribution. Research is underway to produce young for restocking purposes and also for commercial production in some countries (Spain). However, it is harvested locally on a small scale in some countries.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Crustacea
- Class: Malacostraca
- Subclass: Eumalacostraca
- Order: Decapoda
- Suborder: Reptantia
- Unknown: Astacoidea
- Family: Astacidae
- Genus: Austropotamobius
- Species: Austropotamobius pallipes
DescriptionTop of page
Adults may grow to 12 cm total length from the tip of the rostrum to the telson, and reach 90 g. Specimens up to 15 cm have been recorded. Males tend to be larger than females. The body is smooth, brown to olive in colour with a pitted appearance. There is a single pair of post-orbital ridges. A row of spines is present behind the cervical groove on the shoulders of the carapace; in fully formed juveniles these spines are present as small tubercles. There is a sharp spine on the shoulder of the carapace, even in juveniles; this is not present in the signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) and is a good way of distinguishing between the two species. It is also distinguishable from the North American signal crayfish by its pinkish-white underside. The carapace is divided into two distinct regions. The rostrum is relatively long, with lateral teeth. Chelipeds are slightly asymmetric. Adult males have larger claws than females. The top of the claws is rough. Females have a broader abdomen, to accommodate the brood. Males can be distinguished from females by the specialised first two pairs of appendages on the undersides of the abdomen. The appendages serve as a plunger to introduce the white spermatophore mass onto the underside of the female during mating. The abdominal legs of the female are more hairy than those in the male and are used to support the egg mass. This species can live for more than 10 years and usually reaches sexual maturity at 3-4 years of age.
DistributionTop of page
A. pallipes can be found in western Europe, in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, France, Switzerland and Spain. Although relatively widespread, the white-clawed crayfish has suffered range reductions and numerous local extinctions as a result of plague outbreaks, direct competition with non-indigenous species and habitat change.
Invasive Species ThreatsTop of page
|Invasive Species||Where Threatened||Mechanism||References||Notes|
|Aphanomyces astaci||Pathogenic||IUCN, 2009|
|Pacifastacus leniusculus (American signal crayfish)|
|Procambarus fallax f. virginalis (Marmorkrebs)||Germany||Competition - monopolizing resources; Pest and disease transmission||Chucholl and Pfeiffer, 2010|
ReferencesTop of page
Carral JM, 1990. Incubation artificial en el cangrejo de rio Pacifastacus leniusculus Dana y desarrollo de los huevos de Austropotamobius pallipes Lereboullet. PhD thesis. Spain: University of Leon.
Carral JM; Celada JD; Gonzalez J; et al, 1993. Wild freshwater crayfish populations in Spain: current status and perspectives. Freshwater Crayfish, 9:158-162.
Carral JM; Celada JD; González J; Sáez-Royuela M; Gaudioso VR, 1994. Mating and spawning of fresh water crayfish, Austropotamobius pallipes Lereboullet, under laboratory conditions. Aquaculture and Fisheries Management, 25(7):721-727.
Carral JM; Celada JD; Munoz C; Sáez-Royuela M; Pérez JR, 2000. Effects of the presence or absence of males throughout spawning and maternal incubation on the reproductive efficiency of astacid crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes) under controlled conditions. Invertebrate Reproduction & Development, 38(1):1-5.
Celada JD; Carral JM; Pérez JR; Sáez-Royuela M; Munoz C, 2001. Successful storage and transport of eggs of the white-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes Lereboullet). Aquaculture International, 9(3):269-276.
Chucholl C; Pfeiffer M, 2010. First evidence for an established Marmorkrebs (Decapoda, Astacida, Cambaridae) population in Southwestern Germany, in syntopic occurrence with Orconectes limosus (Rafinesque, 1817). Aquatic Invasions, 5(4):405-412. http://www.aquaticinvasions.net/2010/AI_2010_5_4_Chucholl_Pfeiffer.pdf
Gledhill T; Sutcliffe DW; Williams WD, 1993. British freshwater Crustacea Malacostraca: a key with ecological notes. British freshwater Crustacea Malacostraca: a key with ecological notes., 173 pp.; [50 fig., Freshwater Biological Association, Scientific Publication, No. 52].
Holdich DM, 1992. Crayfish nomenclature and terminology: recommendations for uniformity. Finnish Fisheries Research, 14:149-155.
Holdich DM, 2003. Ecology of the white-clawed crayfish, Austropotamobius pallipes. Conserving Natura 2000 Rivers Ecology Series No. 1. Peterborough, UK: English Nature.
Holdich DM; Harlioglu MM; Firkins I, 1997. Salinity adaptations of crayfish in British waters with particular reference to Austropotamobius pallipes, Astacus leptodactylus and Pacifastacus leniusculus. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 44:147-154.
Holdich DM; Rogers WD, 1997. Austropotamobius pallipes in the British Isles - distribution, threats and legislation. Bulletin Francais de la Peche et de la Pisciculture, 347:597-616.
Ingle R, 1997. Crayfishes, lobsters and crabs of Europe. An illustrated guide to common and traded species. London, UK: Chapman and Hall, 281 pp.
Ingle RW, 1977. Laboratory and SCUBA studies on the behaviour of the freshwater crayfish, Austropotamobius pallipes (Lereboullet). Report of the Underwater Association, NS, 2:1-15.
JNCC, 2004. Invertebrate species: arthropods. White-clawed (or Atlantic stream) crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes. Online at www.jncc.gov.uk/ProtectedSites?SACselection/species.asp?FeatureIntCode=S1092. Accessed 24 January 2005.
Matthews MA, 1992. Reproduction, growth and aquaculture potential of the freshwater crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes (Lereboullet). PhD Thesis. Ireland: University of Dublin.
Pérez JR; Carral JM; Celada JD; Munoz C; Sáez-Royuela M; Antolín JI, 1999. The possibilities for artificial incubation of white-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes Lereboullet) eggs: comparison between maternal and artificial incubation. Aquaculture, 170(1):29-35.
Reynolds JD; Celada JD; Carral JM; Matthews MA, 1992. Reproduction of astacid crayfish in captivity-current developments and implications for culture, with special reference to Ireland and Spain. Invertebrate Reproduction and Development, 22(1-3):253-266.
Rhodes CP; Holdich DM, 1982. Observations on the fecundity of the freshwater crayfish, Austropotamobius pallipes (Lereboullet) in the British Isles. Hydrobiologia, 89:231-236.
Sáez-Royuela M; Carral JM; Celada JD; Pérez JR, 2001. Effects of shelter type and food supply frequency on survival and growth of stage-2 juvenile white-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes Lereboullet) under laboratory conditions. Aquaculture International, 9(6):489-497.
Villanelli F; Gherardi F, 1998. Breeding in the crayfish, Austropotamobius pallipes: mating patterns, mate choice and intermale competition. Freshwater Biology, 40:305-315.
ContributorsTop of page
Uma Sabapathy Allen
Human Sciences, CAB International, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8DE, UK