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).
Forthcoming research papers
Kaldre K, Haugjärv K, Liiva M, Gross R. The effect of two different feeds on growth, carapace colour, maturation and mortality in marbled crayfish (Procambarus fallax f. virginalis). Aquaculture International: in press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10499-014-9807-1
Patoka J, Kalous L, Kopecký O. Risk assessment of the crayfish pet trade based on data from the Czech Republic. Biological Invasions: in press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10530-014-0682-5
Vogt G. Life span, early life stage protection, mortality and senescence in freshwater Decapoda. In: Yeo DCJ, Klaus S, Cumberlidge N (eds.), Advances in Freshwater Decapod Systematics and Biology (Crustaceana Monographs 17), in press. Brill: Leiden.
2014 research papers
Kouba A, Petrusek A, Kozák P. 2014. Continental-wide distribution of crayfish species in Europe: update and maps. Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems 413: 05. http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/kmae/2014007
Soedarini B, van Gestel CAM, van Straalen NM, Widianarko B, Röling WFM. 2013. Interactions between accumulated copper, bacterial community structure and histamine levels in crayfish meat during storage. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 94(10): 2023-2029. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jsfa.6519
2013 research papers
Bohman P, Edsman L, Martin P, Scholtz G. 2013. The first Marmorkrebs (Decapoda: Astacida: Cambaridae) in Scandinavia. BioInvasions Records 2(3): 227–232.
Chucholl C. 2013. Invaders for sale: trade and determinants of introduction of ornamental freshwater crayfish. Biological Invasions 15(1): 125-141.
Faulkes Z. 2013. How much is that crayfish in the window? Online monitoring of Marmorkrebs, Procambarus fallax f. virginalis (Hagen, 1870) in the North American pet trade. Freshwater Crayfish 19(1): 39-44. http://dx.doi.org/10.5869/fc.2013.v19.039
Gallardo B, Aldridge DC. 2013. The ‘dirty dozen’: socio-economic factors amplify the invasion potential of 12 high-risk aquatic invasive species in Great Britain and Ireland. Journal of Applied Ecology 50(3): 757–766. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.12079
Soedarini B, Klaver L, Giesen D, Roessink I, Widianarko B, van Straalen NM, van Gestel CAM. 2013. Effect of copper exposure on histamine concentrations in the marbled crayfish (Procambarus fallax forma virginalis). Animal Biology 63(2): 139–147. http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/15707563-00002401
Shen H, Braband A, Scholtz G. 2013. Mitogenomic analysis of decapod crustacean phylogeny corroborates traditional views on their relationships. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 66(3): 776-789. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2012.11.002
Vogt G. 2013. Abbreviation of larval development and extension of brood care as key features of the evolution of freshwater Decapoda. Biological Reviews 88(1): 81-116.
Zieger E, Bräunig P, Harzsch S. 2013. A developmental study of serotonin-immunoreactive neurons in the embryonic brain of the marbled crayfish and the migratory locust: evidence for a homologous protocerebral group of neurons. Arthropod Structure & Development 42(6): 507-520. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.asd.2013.08.004
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 24 June 2014.