Pontastacus leptodactylus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Arthropoda Malacostraca Decapoda Astacidae

Scientific Name: Pontastacus leptodactylus (Eschscholtz, 1823)
Common Name(s):
English Danube Crayfish, Galican Crayfish, Long-clawed Crayfish, Narrow-clawed Crayfish, Pond Crayfish, Slender-clawed Crayfish, Swamp Crayfish, Turkish Crayfish
French Écrevisse á Pattes Grêles, Écrevisse des Manais, Écrevisse Turque
Astacus leptodactylus Eschscholtz, 1823
Astacus leptodactylus ssp. kessleri Karaman, 1963
Astacus leptodactylus ssp. eichwaldi Karaman, 1963
Taxonomic Notes: Astacus leptodactylus is referred to as a species complex. In the 1950s this species was believed to belong to the subgenus Astacus (Potastacus) along with A. (P.) pachypus, A. (P.) pylzowi and A. (P.) kessleri.The following four subspecies were attributed to A. (P.) leptodactylus: eichwaldi, cubanicus, salinus, and leptodactylus. Karaman (1962, 1963) however does not acknowledge A. (P.) cubanicus as a subspecies. In the 1970s, Pontastacus was raised to generic level. In the 1980s, Brodskij made a number of revisions within Pontastacus but the number of taxa varied within papers. In the mid 1990s Starobogatov (1995) split Pontastacus into two genera: Pontastacus - P. angulosus (Rathke, 1837); P. cubanicus (Birstein & Winogradow, 1934); P. danubialis (Brodskij, 1967); P. eichwaldi (Bott, 1950); P. intermedius (Bott, 1950); P. kessleri (Schimkewitsch, 1886); P. pyzlowi (Skorikov, 1911); P. salinus (Nordmann, 1942), and Caspiastacus with two species. However, there is great deal of criticism over the recent revision in taxonomy made by Ukranian and Russian taxonomists as it appears to be based on little evidence.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2010-06-01
Assessor(s): Gherardi, F. & Souty-Grosset, C.
Reviewer(s): Collen, B. & Richman, N.
Contributor(s): Cammaerts, R., Fedotov, V.P., Hefti, D., Machino, Y., Manko, P., Miron, L., Pârvulescu, L., Puky, M., Śmietana, P., Zaikov, A., Soulsby, A.-M., Batchelor, A., Dyer, E., Whitton, F., Livingston, F., Milligan, H.T., Smith, J., Lutz, M.L., De Silva, R., McGuinness, S., Kasthala, G., Jopling, B., Sullivan, K. & Cryer, G.
Pontastacus leptodactylus has been assessed as Least Concern. This species is native to the eastern European countries where it is widespread and abundant. It has suffered significant declines both in the past and in the present day, however the majority of the population appears to be relatively stable.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This is a widespread species and can be found throughout Europe, eastern Russia, and the middle east. However it is absent from some of the northern European countries such as Norway and Sweden, and the southern European countries Spain and Portugal (Souty-Grosset et al. 2006). It is considered indigenous in the eastern part of its range, but has been introduced into many of the western European countries (Machino and Holdich 2006, Souty-Grosset et al. 2006).
Countries occurrence:
Austria; Azerbaijan; Belarus; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Georgia; Greece; Hungary; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Israel; Kazakhstan; Kyrgyzstan; Moldova; Romania; Russian Federation; Serbia; Slovakia; Turkey (Turkey-in-Asia, Turkey-in-Europe); Turkmenistan; Ukraine
Armenia; Belgium; Czech Republic; Denmark; Finland; France; Germany; Italy; Latvia; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Netherlands; Poland; Switzerland; United Kingdom (Great Britain); Uzbekistan
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Declines have been noted in some parts of this species range as a result of competition with the crayfish Orconectes rusticus, and the crayfish plague (Aphanomyces astaci). Declines are most notable in the western part of this species range where it has been introduced.

Austria: There is no information on the status of this species in this country.

Azerbaijan: There is no information on the status of this species in this country.

Belarus: There is no information on the status of this species in this country.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: There is no information on the status of this species in this country.

Bulgaria: This species is widespread and of commercial interest (Zaikov and Hubenova 2007).

Croatia: This species is dense in parts of its range and is expanding its range size (I. Maguire and G. Klobučar pers. comm. 2009).

Georgia: There is no information on the status of this species in this country.

Greece: This species is found in the Evros River (Perdicaris et al. 2007).

Hungary: It is usually present in lowland waters and fish ponds, and is most common in the southern and eastern part of the country (Puky et al. 2005). It has been wiped out from different habitats by several factors e.g. the introduction of the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) to Lake Balaton leading to its extinction in the 1960s there and in the lower stretch of the inflowing River Zala; the spread of Orconectes limosus along the southern part of the Hungarian Danube stretch at the turn of the 1990s and 2000s. However, previously unknown populations are also being described for the first time, as such at a national level its status is indeterminate;  it appears stable in some areas, with declines in others (P. Miklós pers. comm. 2009).

Iran: There are good stocks of this species in this country (Souty-Grosset et al. 2006).

Israel: There is no information on the status of this species in this country.

Kazakhstan: This species is described as abundant in countries such as Kazakhstan (Souty-Grosset et al. 2006).

Moldova: There is no information on the status of this species in this country.

Romania: There have been significant historical declines in the population numbers of this species, however attempts are being made to re-stock it into former parts of its range (M. Miron and L. Miron pers. comm. 2009).

Russia: This species is described as widespread and abundant in countries such as Russia (Souty-Grosset et al. 2006). Pollution has affected crayfish species in Russia (Fedotov, Bykadorova and Kholodkevich 1998) especially in the lower River Don where abundance is reported to have declined 4-17 fold since the 1980s (Souty-Grosset et al. 2006)

Serbia: Spreading in some regions, but declining in others as a result of Orconectes limosus (Holdich et al. 2009).

Slovakia: Though this species is listed as Critically Endangered in Slovakia, the population is thought to be currently stable (P. Manko pers. comm. 2009).

Turkey: There have been fluctuations in the harvest of this species over the years, though is said to have shown an increasing trend since 1995. However, since 2005 there has been a decline in the catch from 2,317 tonnes in 2004, to 809 tonnes in 2005, to 797 tonnes in 2006, and to 750-760 in 2007. The reason for this apparent decline is not clear and there is no indication that it is related to crayfish plague, though over-harvesting is thought to be contributing (Harlioğlu and Harlioğlu 2009).

Turkmenistan: There is no information on the status of this species in this country.

Ukraine: Widespread and abundant (Souty-Grosset et al. 2006).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is found in both fresh and brackish waters, e.g. lagoons, estuaries, as well as running freshwater rivers in the Ponto-Caspian Basin. Across Europe it is found in lakes, canals and rivers. It is tolerant to changes in temperature, low oxygen content, and low water transparency, and is known to occur in saline conditions such as estuaries. Tolerance experiments indicated that O+ juveniles and adults are well adapted for surviving salinities of at least 21ppt in the long term, and will tolerate being transferred directly back into freshwater. However, their ability to colonize the estuarine environment may be restricted to areas of low salinity (i.e. 7ppt) due to the adverse effects of seawater on egg development and hatching (Holdich, Harlioğlu and Firkins 1997).

In addition, this species is active during the day and during winter. These features and the high fecundity and fast growth suggest that it can outcompete Astacus astacus. Furthermore, it is an omnivorous species, but demonstrates a preference for zoobenthos, which makes up to 97.2% of the weight of its food in the first year of life in the Caspian Sea.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is commercially harvested for food. It is harvested both from the wild, and from aquaculture operations.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are a number of widespread threats impacting this species. Due to the commercial quantities in which it is found in some countries, it has been extensively harvested for food within a number of countries. In Turkey this species suffered significant declines as a result of overfishing and crayfish plague (Aphanomyces astaci). The harvest of this species showed a gradual increase between 1977 and 1984, after which is underwent a significant decline from between 3,885 - 7,936 tonnes, to less than 2,000 tonnes up to 2002. Between 1991 and 2002 a gradual increase in the harvest has been observed, though it is still at 20% of the 1980s level (Harlioğlu and Harlioğlu 2005). Two of the greatest threats to this species are invasive species such as the Signal Crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) and the Spiny-cheek Crayfish (Orconectes limosus), and crayfish plague (Aphanomyces astaci) (Lózan 2000).

Dredging of waterways in localised areas has further threatened this species as it leaves the water cloudy and disturbs the habitat. Pollution of waterways (domestic, agricultural and industrial) has also resulted in significant declines, particularly in the River Don where abundance is said to have declined 4-17 fold since the 1980s (Souty-Grosset et al. 2006).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is partially protected in Uzbekistan where it is listed in The Red Data Book of Uzbekistan but under the name Pontastacus kessleri. It is also listed in the Red Data Book for Moscow. Harvesting of this species in Turkey during the spawning season is prohibited. In the western parts of this species range where it has been introduced, there is no protection in place. Infact measures are often taken to try and eradicate it. This species is being reintroduced into areas of its former range (Souty-Grosset et al. 2006).

Amended [top]

Amended reason: This species has been laterally moved from the genus Astacus to Pontastacus in line with Crandall, K.A. & S. De Grave. (2017). An updated classification of the freshwater crayfishes (Decapoda: Astacidea) of the world, with a complete species list. Journal of Crustacean Biology.

Citation: Gherardi, F. & Souty-Grosset, C. 2017. Pontastacus leptodactylus (amended version of 2016 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T153745A120103207. . Downloaded on 24 September 2018.
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