Multiple drivers of decline in the global status of freshwater crayfish (Decapoda: Astacidea)

Nadia I. Richman, Monika Böhm, Susan B. Adams, Fernando Alvarez, Elizabeth A. Bergey, John J.S. Bunn, Quinton Burnham, Jay Cordeiro, Jason Coughran, Keith A. Crandall, Kathryn L. Dawkins, Robert J. Distefano, Niall E. Doran, Lennart Edsman, Arnold G. Eversole, Leopold Füreder, James M. Furse, Francesca Gherardi, Premek Hamr, David M. HoldichPierre Horwitz, Kerrylyn Johnston, Clive M. Jones, Julia P.G. Jones, Robert L. Jones, Thomas G. Jones, Tadashi Kawai, Susan Lawler, Marilu López-Mejίa, Rebecca M. Miller, Carlos Pedraza-Lara, Alastair M.M. Richardson, Mark B. Schultz, Guenter A. Schuster, Peter J. Sibley, Catherine Souty-Grosset, Christopher A. Taylor, Roger F. Thoma, Jerry Walls, Todd S. Walsh, Ben Collen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rates of biodiversity loss are higher in freshwater ecosystems than in most terrestrial or marine ecosystems, making freshwater conservation a priority. However, prioritization methods are impeded by insufficient knowledge on the distribution and conservation status of freshwater taxa, particularly invertebrates. We evaluated the extinction risk of the world’s 590 freshwater crayfish species using the IUCN Categories and Criteria and found 32% of all species are threatened with extinction. The level of extinction risk differed between families, with proportionally more threatened species in the Parastacidae and Astacidae than in the Cambaridae. Four described species were Extinct and 21% were assessed as Data Deficient. There was geographical variation in the dominant threats affecting the main centres of crayfish diversity. The majority of threatened US and Mexican species face threats associated with urban development, pollution, damming and water management. Conversely, the majority of Australian threatened species are affected by climate change, harvesting, agriculture and invasive species. Only a small proportion of crayfish are found within the boundaries of protected areas, suggesting that alternative means of long-term protection will be required. Our study highlights many of the significant challenges yet to come for freshwater biodiversity unless conservation planning shifts from a reactive to proactive approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20140060
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1662
StatePublished - Feb 19 2015


  • Crayfish
  • Extinction risk
  • Freshwater biodiversity
  • IUCN red list
  • Threatened

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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