Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

The marbled crayfish (Decapoda: Cambaridae) represents an independent new species



Marbled crayfish are a globally expanding population of parthenogenetically reproducing freshwater decapods. They are closely related to the sexually reproducing slough crayfish, Procambarus fallax, which is native to the southeastern United States. Previous studies have shown that marbled crayfish are morphologically very similar to P. fallax. However, different fitness traits, reproductive incompatibility and substantial genetic differences suggest that the marbled crayfish should be considered an independent species. This article provides its formal description and scientific name, Procambarus virginalis sp. nov.



Crustacea, parthenogenesis, annulus ventralis, genetic analysis, mitochondrial DNA

Full Text:



Alwes, F. & Scholtz, G. (2006) Stages and other aspects of the embryology of the parthenogenetic Marmorkrebs (Decapoda, Reptantia, Astacida). Development Genes and Evolution, 216 (4), 169–184.

Bickford, D., Lohman, D.J., Sodhi, N.S., Ng, P.K., Meier, R., Winker, K., Ingram, K.K. & Das, I. (2007) Cryptic species as a window on diversity and conservation. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 22 (3), 148–155.

Breinholt, J.W., Porter, M.L. & Crandall, K.A. (2012) Testing phylogenetic hypotheses of the subgenera of the freshwater crayfish genus Cambarus (Decapoda: Cambaridae). PLoS ONE, 7, e46105.

Chucholl, C., Morawetz, K. & Groß, H. (2012) The clones are coming – strong increase in Marmorkrebs Procambarus fallax (Hagen, 1870) f. virginalis records from Europe. Aquatic Invasions, 7 (4), 511–519.

Chucholl, C. & Pfeiffer, M. (2010) First evidence for an established Marmorkrebs (Decapoda, Astacida, Cambaridae) population in Southwestern Germany, in syntopic occurrence with Orconectes limosus (Rafinesque, 1817). Aquatic Invasions, 5 (4), 405–412.

Crandall, K.A. & De Grave, S. (2017) An updated classification of the freshwater crayfishes (Decapoda: Astacidea) of the world, with a complete species list. Journal of Crustacean Biology, 37 (5), 1–39.

Feria, T.P. & Faulkes, Z. (2011) Forecasting the distribution of Marmorkrebs, a parthenogenetic crayfish with high invasive potential, in Madagascar, Europe, and North America. Aquatic Invasions, 6 (1), 55–67.

Gutekunst, J., Andriantsoa, R., Falckenhayn, C., Hanna, K., Stein, W., Rasamy, J.R. & Lyko, F. (submitted) Clonal genome evolution and rapid invasive spread of the marbled crayfish.

Hobbs, H.H.J. (1972) Crayfishes (Astacidae) of North and Middle America. Biota of Freshwater Ecosystems. Identification Manual 9. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, 177 pp.

Hobbs, H.H.J. (1989) An illustrated checklist of the American crayfishes (Decapoda: Astacidae, Cambaridae, and Parastacidae). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, 480, 1–236.

ICZN (1999) International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. Fourth Edition. The International Trust for Zoological Nomenclature, London, UK, 306 pp.

Jimenez, S.A. & Faulkes, Z. (2011) Can the parthenogenetic marbled crayfish Marmorkrebs compete with other crayfish species in fights? Journal of Ethology, 29 (1), 115–120.

Jones, J.P.G., Rasamy, J.R., Harvey, A., Toon, A., Oidtmann, B., Randrianarison, M.H., Raminosoa, N. & Ravoahangimalala, O.R. (2009) The perfect invader: a parthenogenic crayfish poses a new threat to Madagascar's freshwater biodiversity. Biological Invasions, 11 (6), 1475–1482.

Kawai, T., Scholtz, G., Morioka, S., Ramanamandimby, F., Lukhaup, C. & Hanamura, Y. (2009) Parthenogenetic alien crayfish (Decapoda: Cambaridae) spreading in Madagascar. Journal of Crustacean Biology, 29 (4), 562–567.

Keller, N.S., Pfeiffer, M., Roessink, I., Schulz, R. & Schrimpf, A. (2014) First evidence of crayfish plague agent in populations of the marbled crayfish (Procambarus fallax forma virginalis). Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems, 414 (15), 1–8.

Liptak, B., Mrugala, A., Pekarik, L., Mutkovic, A., Grula, D., Petrusek, A. & Kouba, A. (2016) Expansion of the marbled crayfish in Slovakia: beginning of an invasion in the Danube catchment? Journal of Limnology, 75 (2), 305–312.

Lokkos, A., Muller, T., Kovacs, K., Varkonyi, L., Specziar, A. & Martin, P. (2016) The alien, parthenogenetic marbled crayfish (Decapoda: Cambaridae) is entering Kis-Balaton (Hungary), one of Europe’s most important wetland biotopes. Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems, 417 (16), 1–9.

Martin, P., Dorn, N.J., Kawai, T., van der Heiden, C. & Scholtz, G. (2010) The enigmatic Marmorkrebs (marbled crayfish) is the parthenogenetic form of Procambarus fallax (Hagen, 1870). Contributions to Zoology, 79, 107–118. Available from:;idno=7903a03 (accessed 9 December 2017)

Martin, P., Kohlmann, K. & Scholtz, G. (2007) The parthenogenetic Marmorkrebs (marbled crayfish) produces genetically uniform offspring. Naturwissenschaften, 94 (10), 843–846.

Martin, P., Thonagel, S. & Scholtz, G. (2016) The parthenogenetic Marmorkrebs (Malacostraca: Decapoda: Cambaridae) is a triploid organism. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 54 (1), 13–21.

Novitsky, R.A. & Son, M.O. (2016) The first records of Marmorkrebs [Procambarus fallax (Hagen, 1870) f. virginalis] (Crustacea, Decapoda, Cambaridae) in Ukraine. Ecologica Montenegrina, 5, 44–46. Available from: (accessed 9 December 2017)

Owen, C.L., Bracken-Grissom, H., Stern, D. & Crandall, K.A. (2015) A synthetic phylogeny of freshwater crayfish: insights for conservation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London B: Biological Sciences, 370 (1662), 20140009.

Patoka, J., Buřič, M., Kolář, V., Bláha, M., Petrtýl, M., Franta, P., Tropek, R., Kalous, L., Petrusek, A. & Kouba, A. (2016) Predictions of marbled crayfish establishment in conurbations fulfilled: Evidences from the Czech Republic. Biologia, 71 (12), 1380–1385.

Saura, A., Lokki, J. & Suomalainen, E. (1993) Origin of polyploidy in parthenogenetic weevils. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 163 (4), 449–456.

Scholtz, G., Braband, A., Tolley, L., Reimann, A., Mittmann, B., Lukhaup, C., Steuerwald, F. & Vogt, G. (2003) Ecology: Parthenogenesis in an outsider crayfish. Nature, 421, 806.

Seitz, R., Vilpoux, K., Hopp, U., Harzsch, S. & Maier, G. (2005) Ontogeny of the Marmorkrebs (marbled crayfish): a parthenogenetic crayfish with unknown origin and phylogenetic position. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Comparative Experimental Biology, 303A (5), 393–405.

Vogt, G. (2008) Investigation of hatching and early post-embryonic life of freshwater crayfish by in vitro culture, behavioral analysis, and light and electron microscopy. Journal of Morphology, 269 (7), 790–811.

Vogt, G., Falckenhayn, C., Schrimpf, A., Schmid, K., Hanna, K., Panteleit, J., Helm, m., Schulz, R. & Lyko, F. (2015) The marbled crayfish as a paradigm for saltational speciation by autopolyploidy and parthenogenesis in animals. Biology Open, 4, 1583–1594.

Vogt, G., Huber, M., Thiemann, M., van den Boogaart, G., Schmitz, O.J. & Schubart, C.D. (2008) Production of different phenotypes from the same genotype in the same environment by developmental variation. Journal of Experimental Biology, 211, 510–523.

Vogt, G., Tolley, L. & Scholtz, G. (2004) Life stages and reproductive components of the Marmorkrebs (marbled crayfish), the first parthenogenetic decapod crustacean. Journal of Morphology, 261 (3), 286–311.

Vojkovska, R., Horka, I., Tricarico, E. & Duris, Z. (2014) New record of the parthenogenetic marbled crayfish Procambarus fallax f. virginalis from Italy. Crustaceana, 87 (11–12), 1386–1392.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN 1175-5326 (Print Edition) & ISSN 1175-5334 (Online Edition)
Published by Magnolia Press, Auckland, New Zealand