Managing invasive crayfish: use of X-ray sterilisation of males


Laura Aquiloni, Department of Evolutionary Biology, University of Florence, Via Romana 17, 50125 Florence, Italy. E-mail:


1. In the last decade, many attempts have been made to contain the spread of the North American crayfish Procambarus clarkii, an invader of many European water bodies, but none has been successful.

2. This study investigates the effects that ionising irradiation has on the reproduction of P. clarkii males by analysing the behaviour of the treated individuals, their reproductive output, the vitality and survival of their offspring and the damages induced to their gonads.

3. We found that a dose of 20 Gy X-rays did not compromise either the survival or the mating ability of males, but reduced the size of their testes and significantly altered spermatogenesis. The number of aborted eggs was larger in clutches sired by treated males, with a consequent reduction (by 43%) in the number of offspring.

4. These results foster hopes in our efforts to control invasive crayfish, showing the potential effectiveness of ionising irradiation to reduce male fertility in the perspective of adopting the Sterile Male Release Technique to control P. clarkii populations.