Invasion History

First Non-native North American Tidal Record: 1959
First Non-native West Coast Tidal Record: 1959
First Non-native East/Gulf Coast Tidal Record:

General Invasion History:

Pacifastacus leniusculus is native to northwestern North America from Oregon to British Columbia. The southern boundary of the native range is unclear. Museum specimens from the Klamath and Eel River drainages in Northern California are undated (Taylor et al. 1996; U.S. Museum of Natural History 2007). The Signal Crayfish was introduced to various watersheds in California, including the San Francisco Bay watershed and delta (Cohen and Carlton 1995).

North American Invasion History:

Invasion History on the West Coast:

Pacifastacus leniusculus was introduced to various California watersheds, possibly as early as 1898, in San Francisco. An official transplant was made in 1912 to hatcheries in Santa Cruz County, and in later years, they were introduced to the Sacramento-San Joaquin watershed. They were present in the Delta by 1959, and are now abundant (Riegel 1959). Other California locations include the Monterey Bay watershed, and upper reaches of the Sacramento watershed in the Sierras (USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2010). Two records near the coast were from the Carmel River and the Little Sur Rivers, south of Monterey Bay, two and one miles from the ocean, respectively (Riegel 1959).

In 2002, one specimen was caught in the Buskin River on Kodiak Island, Alaska (USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program 2011). This could have been a bait release.

Invasion History Elsewhere in the World:

In the 1860s, the fungus Aphanomyces astaci (Crayfish Plague) spread throughout Europe, killing the native crayfish (Astacus astacus) and other species. This disease was probably brought from North America with crayfish sold as food. Disease-resistant North American crayfish were stocked in many locations. Pacifastacus leniusculus was introduced to Sweden in 1959, and were widely transplanted into northern European freshwaters and are now present from Spain to Finland, with isolated populations in Greece (Holdich et al. 2009). It occurs in the Gulf of Bothnia, Baltic Sea (Olenin and Leppakoski 2000), but the extent to which it inhabits and disperses through estuarine waters is unclear (Holdich et al. 1997). Pacifiastcus leniusculus is established in the upper Danube drainage near Koszeg, Hungary (Puky et al. 2005). It also occurs in the Czech Republic and Austria, but has not been reported from the lower Danube or elsewhere in the Black Sea watershed.

Pacifastacus leniusculus stock from the Columbia River was introduced to Hokkaido and Honshu, Japan, between 1926 and 1930, and it is now widespread, especially in Hokkaido (Uso et al. 2007).


Description

Male crayfish of the genus Pacifastacus (Signal Crayfish) lack hooks on the ischia (3rd segment) of the walking legs, while females lack the annulus ventralis (seminal receptacle), which in cambarid crayfish, is located between the 4th and 5th pairs of walking legs (Hobbs 1991). The margin of the rostrum in P. leniusculus is smooth. The Signal Crayfish matures at 60 mm and occasionally reaches 160 mm. The overall color of the animal is dark brown, but a turquoise and white patch at the base of the claw is distinctive (Riegel 1959; Taugbøl and Johnsen 2006).


Taxonomy

Taxonomic Tree

Kingdom:   Animalia
Phylum:   Arthropoda
Subphylum:   Crustacea
Class:   Malacostraca
Subclass:   Eumalacostraca
Superorder:   Eucarida
Order:   Decapoda
Suborder:   Pleocyemata
Infraorder:   Stenopodidea
Superfamily:   Astacoidea
Family:   Astacidae
Genus:   Pacifastacus
Species:   leniusculus

Synonyms

Astacus leniusculus (Dana, 1852)
Potamobius leniusculus (Ortmann, 1902)

Potentially Misidentified Species

Orconectes virilis
Virile Crayfish, Midwest native, introduced to East Coast, West Coast, and Europe

Pacifastacus klamathensis
Klamath Crayfish, native to Klamath and Eel basins, northern California and Oregon

Pacifiastacus fortis
Shasta Crayfish, California native, upper Sacramento basin

Ecology

General:

Life History- Freshwater crayfish mate by internal fertilization, with the male attaching spermatophores to the space between the 4th and 5th walking legs. The female curls her abdomen far forward, to create a chamber in which the eggs are driven by the pleopods. The mass of eggs becomes attached under the tail. Larval development takes place inside the egg and the young hatch as miniature adults (Barnes 1983).

Ecology- Pacifastacus leniusculus inhabits streams, ponds and lakes in a variety of habitats, including rocky, muddy, and vegetated areas (Taugbøl and Johnsen 2006). If soft sediment is present, it digs burrows. It is tolerant of salinities up to 28 PSU, but females with eggs have not been seen at salinities above 7 PSU (Holdich et al. 1997).

Food:

aquatic plants, freshwater invertebrates, carrion

Consumers:

fishes, turtles, snakes, raccoons, otters, birds

Competitors:

Other crayfish species

Trophic Status:

Omnivore

Omni

Habitats

General HabitatFresh (nontidal) MarshNone
General HabitatGrass BedNone
General HabitatCoarse Woody DebrisNone
General HabitatSwampNone
General HabitatNontidal FreshwaterNone
General HabitatTidal Fresh MarshNone
General HabitatRockyNone
Salinity RangeLimnetic0-0.5 PSU
Salinity RangeOligohaline0.5-5 PSU
Salinity RangeMesohaline5-18 PSU
Salinity RangePolyhaline18-30 PSU
Tidal RangeSubtidalNone
Vertical HabitatEpibenthicNone


Tolerances and Life History Parameters

Minimum Temperature (ºC)7.5Westhoff and Rosenberger 2016
Maximum Temperature (ºC)32C. DALE BECKER, ROBERT G. GENOWAY, and J. A. MERRILL 1975, Resistance of a Northwestern Crayfish, Pacifastacus leniusculus (Dana), to Elevated Temperatures. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 1975;104:374–387
Minimum Salinity (‰)0This a freshwater species.
Maximum Salinity (‰)28~60% survival over 9 weeks (Holdich et al. 1997)
Maximum Reproductive Salinity7Maximum salinity in which eggs on berried females hatched (Holdich et al. 1997)
Maximum Length (mm)160ISSG Global Invasive Species database 2011
Broad Temperature RangeNoneCold temperate-Warm temperate
Broad Salinity RangeNoneNontidal Limnetic-Polyhaline

General Impacts

Pacifastacus leniusculus (Signal Crayfish) has had a significant positive economic impact as a fisheries species, but it has had negative impacts as a competitor with native species in California, Europe and Japan. In Europe, it is also a vector for the spread of the crayfish plague (Cohen and Carlton 1995; Usio et al. 2007; Holdich et al. 2009). In Sweden, the estimated cost of impacts from the Signal Crayfish and the crayfish plague was estimated at about 53-88 million US dollars (Gren et al. 2009).

Economic Impacts

Fisheries- Pacifastacus leniusculus is the major crayfish species caught in the San Francisco Bay Delta, supporting a fishery of 250 tons annually (Cohen and Carlton 1995). Pacifastacus leniusculus supports substantial fisheries in Sweden and other northern European countries (Taugbøl and Johnsen 2006).

Ecological Impacts

Competition- In the San Francisco Bay watershed, Pacifastacus leniusculus may have contributed to the extinction of a native crayfish (P. nigrescens, Sooty Crayfish), and is considered to be a competitor threatening the native crayfish P. fortis (Shasta Crayfish) (Cohen and Carlton 1995). Pacifastacus leniusculus displaced the native crayfishes (Astacus astacus, Austropotamobius pallipes) in Europe (Lowery and Holdich 1999; Holdich et al. 2010). In Japan, it is reported to compete and prey on the country's only native crayfish (Cambaroides japonicus) (Usio et al. 2007).

Disease Vector- Pacifastacus leniusculus is a major vector for the spread of the 'Crayfish Plague' fungus, Aphanomyces astaci, which has greatly reduced the abundance and range of native crayfishes in Europe (Lowery and Holdich 1989; Holdich et al. 2009).

Habitat Change- Burrowing by P. leniusculus has been reported to cause erosion at the rate of 1 m per year on the River Lark, England (Stancliffe-Vaughan, 2009, cited by Holdich et al. 2009).

Regional Impacts

P090San Francisco BayEconomic ImpactFisheries
Pacifastacus leniusculus is the major crayfish species caught in the San Francisco Bay Delta, supporting a fishery of 250 tons annually (Cohen and Carlton 1995).
P090San Francisco BayEcological ImpactCompetition
Pacifastacus leniusculus may have contributed to the extinction of a native crayfish (P. nigrescens, Sooty Crayfish), and is considered to be a competitor threatening another native crayfish, P. fortis (Shasta Crayfish) (Cohen and Carlton 1995).
B-XIIINoneEconomic ImpactFisheries
Pacifastacus leniusculus supports substantial fisheries in Sweden and other northern European countries. However, the native A. astacus is still preferred by many customers and sells for a higher price in Sweden and Finland (Holdich et al. 2009). Gren et al. (2009) estimated the loses for fisheries in Sweden due to the crayfish plague (Aphanomyces astaci) and the displacement of native crayfish by P. leniusculus at 365 to 598 million Swedish kroner (53-88 million US dollars).
B-XIIINoneEcological ImpactCompetition
Pacifastacus leniusculus has displaced the native Noble Crayfish (Astacus astacus) in Sweden and Finland (Holdich et al. 2009).
B-XIIINoneEcological ImpactParasite/Predator Vector
Disease Vector- Pacifastacus leniusculus is a major vector for the spread of the 'Crayfish Plague' fungus, Aphanomyces astaci, which has greatly reduced the abundance and range of native crayfish in Europe (Lowery and Holdich 1989).

Regional Distribution Map

Bioregion Region Name Year Invasion Status Population Status
P293 _CDA_P293 (Strait of Georgia) 0 Native Estab
P120 Eel River 1959 Def Estab
P140 Klamath River 0 Def Estab
P150 Rogue River 0 Native Estab
P260 Columbia River 0 Native Estab
P090 San Francisco Bay 1959 Def Estab
P290 Puget Sound 0 Native Estab
P280 Grays Harbor 0 Native Estab
P220 Siletz Bay 0 Native Estab
B-XIII None 1959 Def Estab
P093 _CDA_P093 (San Pablo Bay) 1959 Def Estab
P076 _CDA_P076 (Carmel) 1959 Def Estab
P073 _CDA_P073 (Central Coastal) 1959 Def Estab
B-VIII None 2016 Def Estab

Occurrence Map

OCC_ID Author Year Date Locality Status Latitude Longitude

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