Enemy at the gates: introduction potential of non-indigenous freshwater crayfish in Greece via the aquarium trade
Indigenous freshwater crayfish species (ICS) are important biodiversity components and desirable fishery targets. However, ICS populations are increasingly threatened by various anthropogenic stressors. Moreover, established populations of non-indigenous freshwater crayfish species (NICS) and new 'waves' of NICS introductions exert significant pressure on ICS populations at a pan-European level. These effects include direct competition for space and resources as well as crayfish 'plague' transmission from introduced North American species. Given low public knowledge of this problematic, considerable risk of future introductions exist as a result of conventional and internet-based aquarium trade, which often lead to deliberate and/or accidental releases of NICS into the wild. In 2011, we conducted a survey of freshwater crayfish species in eleven large-size pet shops located in three major cities and in three large internet-based aquarium companies in Greece. Overall, eight species belonging to three genera (Procambarus, Cherax and Cambarellus) were recorded, originating from the USA, Australia, New Guinea and Mexico. The invasion potential of the three most popular species was assessed using the Freshwater Invertebrate Invasiveness Scoring Kit (FI-ISK). Two species were determined to constitute a 'very high risk' of invasion. As such, regulatory measures need to be implemented to monitor the ornamental trade of NICS in Greece and a national framework developed for protecting ICS.