What are Marmorkrebs?
“Marmorkrebs” is an informal name given to marbled crayfish that were discovered by hobbyists in Germany in the late 1990s.
Marmorkrebs are parthenogenetic: they are all females, and reproduce without sex. This is the first decapod crustacean found that reproduces only this way, giving it has incredible potential as a model organism for research. Some of the advantages of Marmorkrebs are that they are genetically identical, reproduce at high rates, and are easy to care for.
“Marmorkrebs” roughly translates from German as “marbled crab.” The current scientific name for Marmorkrebs is Procambarus fallax f. virginalis; they are an asexual form of slough crayfish (P. fallax) that live across Florida and southern Georgia in the United States. There are no known native populations of Marmorkrebs in North America; the only known cases of them in the wild are where they have been introduced by humans.
Marmorkrebs are also an invasive species. They have been introducted in many places, and have established populations in at least three countries, damaging agriculture and threatening native species. Marmorkrebs should not be used for bait (see here), kept in outdoor tanks or ponds (Marmorkrebs readily leave water to migrate over land; see here), or placed in any other situation where they could be released into natural ecosystems. Many jurisdictions have laws regulating the import and release of crayfish. In North America, Missouri added Marmorkrebs to its prohibited species list on 1 March 2011.
View Marmorkrebs introductions in a larger map
Marmorkrebs blog. Award-winning science writing! Updates roughly weekly, usually Tuesday.
Colonies and stocks
North American researchers can contact Zen Faulkes to get Marmorkrebs for research. Establishment of the Faulkes lab Marmorkrebs colony was supported by the National Science Foundation (award 0813581).
Kawai T, Faulkes Z, Scholz G (eds.). Freshwater Crayfish: A Global Overview. CRC Press: Boca Raton. In press. http://www.crcpress.com/product/isbn/9781466586390
Forthcoming research papers
Faulkes Z. Marmorkrebs (Procambarus fallax f. virginalis) are the most popular crayfish in the North American pet trade. Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems: In press.
Kenning M, Lehmann P, Lindstrom M, Harzsch S. Heading which way? Y-maze chemical assays: not all crustaceans are alike. Helgoland Marine Research: in press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10152-015-0435-6
Harzsch S, Krieger J, Faulkes Z. “Crustacea”: Decapoda – Astacida. In: A Wanninger (ed.), Evolutionary Developmental Biology of Invertebrates 4: Ecdysozoa II: Crustacea. Springer: New York. http://www.springer.com/life+sciences/animal+sciences/book/978-3-7091-1852-8
2015 research papers
Faulkes Z. 2015. A bomb set to drop: parthenogenetic Marmorkrebs for sale in Ireland, a European location without non-indigenous crayfish. Management of Biological Invasions 6(1): 111-114. http://dx.doi.org/10.3391/mbi.2015.6.1.09
Jirikowski G, Wolff C, Richter S. 2015. Evolution of eumalacostracan development--new insights into loss and reacquisition of larval stages revealed by heterochrony analysis. EvoDevo 6(1): 4. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/2041-9139-6-4
Kaldre K, Haugjärv K, Liiva M, Gross R. 2015. The effect of two different feeds on growth, carapace colour, maturation and mortality in marbled crayfish (Procambarus fallax f. virginalis). Aquaculture International 23(1): 185-194. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10499-014-9807-1
Mrugała A, Kozubíková-Balcarová E, Chucholl C, Cabanillas Resino S, Viljamaa-Dirks S, Vukić J, Petrusek A. 2015. Trade of ornamental crayfish in Europe as a possible introduction pathway for important crustacean diseases: crayfish plague and white spot syndrome. Biological Invasions 17(5): 1313-1326. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10530-014-0795-x
Patoka J, Kalous L, Kopecký O. 2015. Imports of ornamental crayfish: the first decade from the Czech Republic’s perspective. Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems 416: 04. http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/kmae/2014040
Vogt G. 2015. Stochastic developmental variation, an epigenetic source of phenotypic diversity with far-reaching biological consequences. Journal of Biosciences 41(1): 159-204. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12038-015-9506-8
For more research papers, click here.
Anonymous. 2007. British crayfish could be wiped out by alien species with the plague. The Daily Mail. 28 June 2007.
Faulkes Z. 2009. How Marmorkrebs can make the world a better place. In: Rohn J (ed.), Grant RP (deputy ed.), Zivkovic B (series ed.), The Open Laboratory: The Best In Science Writing On Blogs 2008, pp. 86-87. Coturnix: Chapel Hill.
Faulkes Z. 2011. The decade the clones came. In: Goldman JG (ed.), Zivkovic B (series ed.), The Open Laboratory: The Best of Science Writing on the Web 2010, pp. 151-156. Coturnix: Chapel Hill.
Heimer K. 2010. Invasion of self-cloning crayfish alarms Madagascar. Deutsche Presse-Agentur wire story.
Horton J. 2013. Scots wildlife at risk from alien crayfish breeds. The Scotsman. 21 April 2013.
Löwe K. 2010. Gefahr aus dem Aquarium. Mitteldeutsche Zeitung (Central German Newspaper) news story. 13 October 2010.
Privenau K. 2010. Marmorkrebs bringt Pest. Mitteldeutsche Zeitung (Central German Newspaper) news story. 12 October 2010.
Robbins M. 2009. Owning clones. Tropical Fish Hobbyist 57(7): 72-74.
Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management. 2012. Discovery of marbled crayfish creates concern.
Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management. 2013. First analysis of marbled crayfish completed.
Missouri has added Marmorkrebs to its prohibited species list, effective 1 March 2011. Read more here.
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This site maintained by Zen Faulkes. Last updated 25 June 2015.