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Forskningsartikel2021Vetenskapligt granskadÖppen tillgång

Colonization history and human translocations explain the population genetic structure of the noble crayfish (Astacus astacus) in Fennoscandia: Implications for the management of a critically endangered species

Dannewitz, Johan; Palm, Stefan; Edsman, Lennart


The noble crayfish (Astacus astacus) is an endangered freshwater species in Europe. The main threat is from lethal crayfish plague, caused by the oomycete Aphanomyces astaci that has been spread over Europe by introduced North American crayfish species, acting as chronic carriers of the disease. Most of the remaining noble crayfish populations are found in the Baltic Sea area, and there is an urgent need to implement conservation actions to slow down or halt the extinction rate in this region. However, limited knowledge about the genetic structure of populations in this area has so far precluded the development of conservation strategies that take genetic aspects into consideration. Key objectives of this large-scale genetic study, covering 77 locations mainly from northern Europe, were to describe the contemporary population genetic structure of the noble crayfish in the Fennoscandian peninsula (Sweden, Norway, and Finland), taking postglacial colonization history into account, and to evaluate how human activities such as stocking have affected the genetic structure of the populations. Analyses of 15 microsatellite markers revealed three main genetic clusters corresponding to populations in northern, middle, and southern Fennoscandia, with measures of genetic diversity being markedly higher within populations in the southern cluster. The observed genetic structure probably mirrors two main colonizations of the Baltic Sea basin after the last glaciation period. At the same time, several deviations from this pattern were observed, reflecting past human translocations of noble crayfish. The results are discussed in relation to the conservation and management of this critically endangered species. In particular, we recommend increased efforts to protect the few remaining noble crayfish populations in southern Fennoscandia and the use of genetic information when planning stocking activities, such as reintroductions following local extinctions.


alien species; conservation evaluation; genetics; invertebrates; lake; stream

Publicerad i

Aquatic Conservation: Marine And Freshwaterecosystems
2021, Volym: 31, nummer: 8, sidor: 1970-1982
Utgivare: WILEY