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Freshwater Crayfish 19(2): 197-218 (2013)


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Ecological Roles of Crayfish in Freshwater and Terrestrial Habitats

Reynolds J, Souty-Grosset C and Richardson A  e-mail link

Published Online: 12/10/2013


Crayfish are the dominant decapods in many freshwater, and even terrestrial, habitats, playing important community roles through their large size, mobility, behaviour and omnivory. Both density and size affect their ecosystem impacts. Many crayfish require a heterogeneous habitat with refuges for survival of different life stages. Life history patterns can be explained in terms of the selective pressures of the habitat and competition. Crayfish may tolerate broad temperature, dissolved oxygen and salinity ranges. Crayfish key roles and attributes in ecosystems include indicators or surrogates for water quality, bioindicators for communities or habitats, keystone controllers of trophic webs and ecological engineers. Protected crayfish may also act as umbrella species for the conservation of communities. Their main habitat templets are cool or warm high quality streams and lakes, warm lower quality wetlands, semiterrestrial swamps and temporary wetlands (burrowers), and cave ecosystems. In high quality waters, K selection may be a strong driver, while r selection may dominate in lower quality biotopes.

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How to Cite

Reynolds J, Souty-Grosset C and Richardson A. (2013). Ecological Roles of Crayfish in Freshwater and Terrestrial Habitats. Freshwater Crayfish 19(2):197-218. doi: 10.5869/fc.2013.v19-2.197



Author Information

Julian D. Reynolds,* Zoology, Trinity College Dublin (emeritus), Home: 115 Weirview Drive, Stillorgan, County Dublin, Ireland000. E-mail:

Catherine  Souty-Grosset, Laboratory Ecologie et Biologie des Interactions, University of Poitiers, UMR CNRS 7267, 40 Avenue du Recteur Pineau,,Poitiers, Poitou-Charentes, France86022. E-mail:

Alastair  Richardson, School of Zoology, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 5, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia7001. E-mail:

Corresponding Author indicated by an *.


Publication History

   Manuscript Submitted: 12/4/2012

   Manuscript Accepted: 10/21/2013

   Published Online: 12/10/2013

   Published in Print: 12/10/2013



Funding Information

No specific funding statement is available for this article.






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