eDNA Labs fieldwork in Podravje Region

 

Based on previously reported presence of specimen and abundance of species in the area, eDNA Labs team visited Podravje Region in Slovenia aiming to collect water samples and detect Spinycheek crayfish in gravel pits adjacent to Drava River.

The goal of this field research expedition was to confirm Spinycheek crayfish presence by molecular method based on its environmental DNA detection applying digital droplet PCR. The eDNA Labs team has so far developed molecular assays for several of crayfish species native and invasive, Spinycheek crayfish (Faxonius limosus), Noble crayfish (Astacus astacus), White-clawed crayfish (Astropotamobius torrentium) and Signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus), all ready for service provision.

Spinycheek crayfish (Faxonius limosus or Orconectes limosus) is one of the invasive crayfish species known to be present in Slovenia. Native to North America, it was deliberately brought to Europe in 19th century to substitute the native European crayfish (also known as Noble crayfish (Astacus astacus)) that was decimated by crayfish plague, introduced by its closely related crayfish species Pacifastacus leniusculus. The action was later found to be counterproductive as due to spinycheek crayfish small size, the crayfish species was not commercially interesting. It has even enabled further spread of crayfish plague.

Today F. limosus poses a threat for multiple reasons. As mentioned, it is a carrier of crayfish plague (to which itself is insensitive), it propagates and grows faster than native species of European crayfish and stone crayfish (Austropotamobius torrentium), over-competing them for food. Stability of ecosystem is therefore compromised.

 

Spinycheek crayfish

 

One of the gravel pits adjacent to Drava river where Spinycheek was found.
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