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Freshwater Crayfish 12(1): 37-48 (1999)


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Freshwater crayfish evolution

Scholtz G  e-mail link

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In this review the problems of monophyly and phylogenetics of freshwater crayfish (Astacida) are treated. In contrast to general belief, the Astacida are not closely related to homarids (clawed lobsters) but belong to a large group including Thalassinida, Anomala and Brachyura. There is good evidence that the Astacida is a monophyletic taxon. Within the Astacida two large monophyletic groups are sister taxa, the Northern Hemisphere Astacoidea and the Southern Hemisphere Parastacoidea. The Astacoidea contain the monophyletic Cambaridae and the “Astacidae”. The monophyly of the latter group is uncertain. In the framework of astacid phylogenetic systematics the problem of the invasion into freshwater is discussed. It is concluded that the stem species of recent freshwater crayfish already lived in freshwater. Colonisation of freshwater must have occurred during the Triassic or earlier when all continents formed the supercontinent Pangaea. With the break-up of Pangaea, Astacoidea and Parastacoidea evolved. Some open questions concerning freshwater crayfish zoogeography are discussed.

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Scholtz G. (1999). Freshwater crayfish evolution. Freshwater Crayfish 12(1):37-48. doi:



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