Phenotypical characterization of indigenous freshwater crayfish populations


D. Sint, River Ecology and Invertebrate Biology, Institute of Ecology, University of Innsbruck, Technikerstraße 25, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria.


The morphology of an animal is known to reflect both genetic variation and adaptation to the environment. Thus, phenotypic criteria have been used to characterize indigenous crayfish populations. Twenty-one morphometric parameters were measured on crayfish from 25 waterbodies in the Austrian and Italian parts of Tyrol. They were analysed with hierarchical cluster analysis to obtain the population structure based on morphological similarity between and within the freshwater crayfish species Astacus astacus (noble crayfish), Austropotamobius torrentium (stone crayfish) and Austropotamobius pallipes (white-clawed crayfish). Furthermore, a stepwise discriminant analysis was applied to the morphometric data to test their differentiating power between populations. Both analyses resulted in a clear differentiation of species and populations, and reflected geographic separations. Thus, the developed morphometric methods were shown to be applicable to characterize the phenotype in freshwater crayfish and seem appropriate to be used for stock identification and the effective characterization of management units in decapod crustaceans.