, Volume 559, Issue 1, pp 113–122 | Cite as

The Decline of the Endangered Populations of the Native Freshwater Crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes) in Southern Spain: It is Possible to Avoid Extinction?

  • Jose María Gil-Sánchez
  • Javier Alba-Tercedor
Primary Research Paper


The southeastern mountains of Spain represent the southernmost limit of the genus Austropotamobius and the species A. pallipes (Lereboullet). The taxonomic position of this isolated crayfish in southern Spain is not clear, being genetically close to A. italicus, but morphologically distinct. A severe decline occurred during the 1980s, especially due to expansion of the alien species Procambarus clarkii, a North American freshwater crayfish and a vector of the aphanomycosis disease. In order to design a strategy for native crayfish conservation, recent trends in native crayfish populations, influence of isolation and habitat variables on their survival and possibilities for their recovery through restocking were studied. A decline in populations was observed between 1991 and 2002 (from 26 to 14 populations), and a total extinction could be predicted within the next 13 years. Two well-defined periods of rapid extinction rates were detected, 1991–1994 (1.25 populations/year) and 1999–2002 (1.50 populations/year). Main causes of extinction for these two periods were invasion by P. clarkii and mortality by unknown causes, respectively. The isolation variables had some positive effects on survival of populations but these cannot offer a sufficient guarantee, since several cases of extinction can be affected by a large component of stochastic factors, including random catastrophes. On the other hand, survival trials and restocking experiments showed that it was possible to recover lost habitats, when P. clarkii was absent and environmental conditions were good. It is concluded that it is possible to avoid extinction of the native crayfish populations; however, the conservation strategies must be based on an urgent stocking/restocking program.


Austropotamobius conservation extinction Southern Europe Spain 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alba-Tercedor, J., Jáimez-Cuéllar, P., Álvarez, M., Avilés, J., Bonada, N., Casas, J., Mellado, A., Ortega, M., Pardo, I., Prat, N., Rieradevall, M., Robles, S., Sáinz-Cantero, C. E., Sánchez-Ortega, A., Suárez, M. L., Toro, M., Vidal-Abarca, M. R., Vivas, S., Zamora-Muñoz, C. 2004Caracterización del estado ecológico de ríos mediterráneos ibéricos mediante el índice IBMWP (antes BMWP’)Limnetica21175185Google Scholar
  2. Alderman, D. J., Polglase, J. L. 1988Pathogens, parasites and commensalsHoldich, D. M.Lowery, R. S. eds. Freshwater Crayfish: Biology, Management and ExploitationCroom HelmLondon167212Google Scholar
  3. Alderman, D. J., Polglase, J. L., Frayling, M. 1987Aphanomyces astaci: pathogenicity under laboratory and field conditionsJournal of Fish Diseases9367379Google Scholar
  4. Arrignon, J. C. 1983Population of the crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes pallipes Lereb. in a brook of Corsica, FranceFreshwater Crayfish5229238Google Scholar
  5. Baille, J., Groombridge, B. 1996IUCN Red List of Threatened AnimalsInternational Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)Gland, Switzerland & Cambridge (UK)Google Scholar
  6. Barbaresi, S., Gherardi, F. 2000The invasión of the alien crayfish Procambarus clarkii in Europe, with particular reference to ItalyBiological Invasions2259264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brown, D. J., Bowler, K. 1977A population study of the British freshwater crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes (Lereboullet)Freshwater Crayfish33349Google Scholar
  8. Cerenius, L., Söderhäll, K., Persson, M., Ajaxon, R. 1987The crayfish plague fungus, Aphanomyces astaci: diagnosis, isolation and pathobiologyFreshwater Crayfish7131144Google Scholar
  9. Correia, M. P., Bruxelas, S., Maia, A. 1996Contribuçao para a recuperaçao das populaçoes de lagostim-de-pés-brancos (Austropotamobius pallipes) na bacia hidrográfica do SaborInstituto FlorestalLisboaGoogle Scholar
  10. Diéguez-Uribeondo, J., Cerenius, L., Söderhäll, K. 1994Saprolegnia parasitica and its virulence on three different species of freshwater crayfishAquacultura120219228Google Scholar
  11. Diéguez-Uribeondo, J., Huang, T., Cerenius, L., Söderhäll, K. 1995Physiological adaptation of an Aphanomyces astaci strain isolated from the freshwater crayfish Procambarus clarkiiMycological Research99574578Google Scholar
  12. Diéguez-Uribeondo, J., Rieda, A., Castién, E., Bascones, J. C. 1997bA plan of restoration in Navarra for the native freshwater crayfish species of Spain, Austropotamobius- pallipesBulletin Français Pêche et Pisciculture347625637Google Scholar
  13. Diéguez-Uribeondo, J., Söderhäll, K. 1993Procambarus clarkii as a vector for the crayfish plague fungus Aphanomyces astaciAquaculture and Fisheries Management24761775Google Scholar
  14. Diéguez-Uribeondo, J., Temiño, C., Muzquiz, J. L. 1997aThe crayfish plague in SpainBulletin Français Pêche et Pisciculture347753763Google Scholar
  15. Fjälling, A. 1995Crayfish traps employed in Swedish fisheriesFreshwater Crayfish8201214Google Scholar
  16. Gasith, A., Resh, V. H. 1999Streams in Mediterranean climate regions: abiotic influences and biotic responses to predictable seasonal eventsAnnual Review of Ecology and Systematics305181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Geddes, M. C., Musgrove, R. J., Campbell, N. J. H. 1993The feasibility of re-establishing the river Murray crayfish, Euastacus armatus, in the low River MurrayFreshwater Crayfish9368379Google Scholar
  18. Gherardi, F. & D. Holdich, (eds), 1999. Crayfish in Europe as Alien Species: How to Make the Best of a Bad Situation? Crustacean Issues, Vol. 11. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam.Google Scholar
  19. Gherardi, F., Villanelli, F., Dardi, P. 1996Behavioural ecology of the white-clawed crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes in a Tuscan stream: preliminary resultsFreshwater Crayfish11182193Google Scholar
  20. Gil-Sánchez, J. M. 1999Situación, historia natural y conservación del cangrejo de río autóctono (Austropotamobius pallipes) en la provincia de GranadaUniversidad de GranadaGranadaDoctoral thesisGoogle Scholar
  21. Gil-Sánchez, J. M., Alba-Tercedor, J. 2002Ecology of the native and introduced crayfishes Austropotamobius pallipes and Procambarus clarkii in southern Spain and implications for conservation of the native speciesBiological Conservation1057580CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gil-Sánchez, J. M., Alba-Tercedor, J., Sánchez-Rojas, C. 2002Situación y evolución del cangrejo de río autóctono (Austropotamobius pallipes) en la provincia de GranadaActa Granatense1139142Google Scholar
  23. Grandjean, F., Frelon-Raimond, M., Souty-Grosset, C. 2002Compilation of molecular data for the phylogeny of the genus Austropotamobius: one species or several?Bulletin Français de la Pêche et de la Pisciculture367671680Google Scholar
  24. Grandjean, F., Harris, D. J., Souty-Grosset, C., Crandall, K. 2000Systematics of the European endangered crayfish species Austropotamobius pallipes (Decapoda: Astacidae)Journal of Crustacean Biology20522529Google Scholar
  25. Grandjean, F., Gouin, N., Souty-Grosset, C., Diéguez- Uribeondo, J. 2001Drastic bottlenecks in the endangered crayfish species Austropotamobius pallipes in Spain and implications for its colonization historyHeredity8618CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hogger, J. B. 1988Ecology, population biology and behaviourHoldich, D. M.Lowery, R. S. eds. Freshwater Crayfish: Biology, Management and ExploitationCroom HelmLondon115144Google Scholar
  27. Holdich, D. M. 2002Distribution of crayfish in Europe and some adjoining countriesBulletin Français de la Pêche et de la Pisciculture367611650Google Scholar
  28. Holdich, D. M., Domaniewski, J. C. J. 1995Studies on a mixed population of the crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes and Pacifastacus leniusculus in EnglandFreshwater Crayfish103745Google Scholar
  29. Holdich, D. M., Lowery, R. S. 1988aCrayfish. An introductionHoldich, D. M.Lowery, R. S. eds. Freshwater Crayfish: Biology, Management and ExploitationCroom HelmLondon16Google Scholar
  30. Holdich, D. M.Lowery, R. S. eds. 1988b Freshwater Crayfish: Biology, Management and ExploitationCroom HelmLondonGoogle Scholar
  31. Holdich, D. M., Rogers, W. D. 1997The white-clawed crayfish, Austropotamobius pallipes, in Great Britain and Ireland with particular reference to its conservation in Great BritainBulletin Français Pêche et Pisciculture347597616Google Scholar
  32. IUCN, 1987. IUCN Position Statement on Translocation of Living Organism. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Gland (Switzerland). Available also in Internet (visited 16 June 2005): .
  33. Lande, R. 1993Risks of population extinction from demographic and environmental stochasticity and random catastrophesAmerican Naturalist142911927CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lappalainen, R., Pursiainen, M. 1995The estimation of a noble crayfish (Astacus astacus) population sizeFreshwater Crayfish8228234Google Scholar
  35. Laurent, P. J. 1988Austropotamobius pallipes and A. torrentium, with observations on their interaction with other species in EuropeHoldich, D. M.Lowery, R. S. eds. Freshwater Crayfish: Biology, Management and ExploitationCroom HelmLondon341364Google Scholar
  36. Lodge, D. M., Taylor, A. C. D., Holdich, D. M., Skurdal, J. 2000Nonindigenous crayfishes threaten north American freshwater biodiversityFisheries25720CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lowery, R. S. 1988Growth, moulting and reproductionHoldich, D. M.Lowery, R. S. eds. Freshwater Crayfish: Biology, Management and ExploitationCroom HelmLondon83113Google Scholar
  38. Picazo-Muñoz, J., 1995. Caracterización y calidad de las aguas de los cauces de la cuenca del río Guadiana Menor. Aspectos físico-químicos y macroinvertebrados acuáticos. Doctoral Thesis, Universidad de Granada.Google Scholar
  39. Reynolds, J. D., Matthews, M. A. 1993Experimental fishing of Austropotamobius pallipes (Lereboullet) stocks in an Irish midlands lakeFreshwater Crayfish9147153Google Scholar
  40. Santucci, F., Iaconelli, M., Andreani, P., Cianchi, R., Nascetti, G., Bullini, L. 1997Allozyme diversity of the European freshwater crayfish of the genus AustropotamobiusBulletin Français Pêche et Pisciculture347663676Google Scholar
  41. Smith, G. R. T., Learner, M. A., Slater, F. M., Foster, J. 1995Habitat features important for the conservation of the native crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes in BritainBiological Conservation75239246Google Scholar
  42. Trontelj, P., Machino, Y., Sket, B. 2005Phylogenetic and phylogeographic relationships inferred from mitochondrial COI gene sequencesMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution34212226CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Vogt, G. 1999Diseases of European freshwater crayfish, with particular emphasis on interspecific transmission of pathogensGherardi, F.Holdich, D. M. eds. Crustacean Issues 11: Crayfish in Europe as Alien Species (How to Make the Best of a Bad Situation?)A.A. BalkemaRotterdam, Netherlands87103Google Scholar
  44. Zamora-Muñoz, C., 1992. Macroinvertebrados acuáticos, caracterización y calidad de las aguas de los cauces de la cuenca alta del río Genil. Doctoral Thesis, Universidad de Granada.Google Scholar
  45. Zamora-Muñoz, C., Alba-Tercedor, J. 1996Bioassessment of organically polluted Spanish rivers, using biotic index and multivariate methodJournal of the North American Benthological Society15332352Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jose María Gil-Sánchez
    • 1
  • Javier Alba-Tercedor
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Animal Biology and Ecology, Faculty of SciencesUniversity of GranadaGranadaSpain

Personalised recommendations