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Money Kills Native Ecosystems: European Crayfish as an Example

Jussila, Japo and Edsman, Lennart and Maguire, Ivana and Dieguez-Uribeondo, Javier and Theissinger, Kathrin (2021). Money Kills Native Ecosystems: European Crayfish as an Example. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 09 , 648495
[Article Review/Survey]

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Native European crayfish conservation was triggered by invasion of crayfish plague disease agent, Aphanomyces astaci, starting 1860s in Northern Italy. Resulting crayfish plague epidemics quickly spread over Continental Europe, then to Finland, Sweden and finally, after running amok around Europe, A. astaci was discovered also in Iberian Peninsula, Norway, Ireland, and United Kingdom in 1970s and 1980s. By that time significant proportion of native crayfish stocks had been lost, and while crayfish plague epidemics were still recorded, also industrialization and waterways construction were causing damage to remaining native crayfish stocks. While alien crayfish introductions, at least Faxonius limosus, already gave rise to first wave of crayfish plague epidemics in late 19th century, later in 1960s it was decided that introductions of alien Pacifastacus leniusculus should be initiated to replace native European crayfish populations. Decisions were based on presumed advantages for fishery, suitable habitat requirements and supposed immunity against A. astaci. Furthermore, conservation of native European crayfish species was sidelined and focus shifted toward alien crayfish stocking routine and consumption. Alien crayfish species introductions resulted in repeated waves of crayfish plague epidemics among remaining native crayfish stocks. It was soon discovered that alien crayfish of North American origin were, as suspected, permanent reservoirs for A. astaci, that some of those alien species were losing their resistance against selected strains of A. astaci and struggled in European aquatic ecosystems. In this article, we introduce numerous motives behind grand mistake of introducing alien crayfish species to Europe and then promoting their stocks instead of focusing on conservation of native crayfish species. We outline how false economical, biological and ecologic assumptions were used to justify a hasty introduction of alien crayfish, which has further devastated native crayfish and also permanently changed European aquatic ecosystems, both with disastrous consequences. Lesson to be learnt is that science-based warnings about alien species damage to native ecosystems and native crayfish must be taken with utmost caution. Protection of native European crayfish should be core issue, not commercial activities. Finally, we summarize main threats and actions needed to protect remaining native freshwater crayfish fauna in Europe.

Authors/Creators:Jussila, Japo and Edsman, Lennart and Maguire, Ivana and Dieguez-Uribeondo, Javier and Theissinger, Kathrin
Title:Money Kills Native Ecosystems: European Crayfish as an Example
Series Name/Journal:Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Year of publishing :2021
Article number:648495
Number of Pages:22
Publication Type:Article Review/Survey
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Ecology
Keywords:conservation, biased decision making, environmental economics, political ecology, fisheries administration, native and alien crayfish, shortsightedness
Permanent URL:
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
Web of Science (WoS)000685082600001
ID Code:25497
Faculty:NJ - Fakulteten för naturresurser och jordbruksvetenskap
Department:(NL, NJ) > Department of Aquatic Resources
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:23 Sep 2021 13:34
Metadata Last Modified:23 Sep 2021 13:35

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