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The population of the white-clawed crayfish has decreased dramatically in the last few decades in its entire area of distribution. This is particularly due to the progressive destruction of its habitat, its displacement by introduced crayfish species associated with the massive spread of the crayfish pest. At present several species conservation projects are carried out with the goals to protect the natural habitats of the white-clawed crayfish, to restore and restructure original crayfish waters, and to advance the rearing and resettlement of crayfish broodstock.
The authors provide a comprehensive overview of the history, distribution, life cycle, morphological and physiological features, ecology and diseases of the white-clawed crayfish. They inform about the causes of endangerment and possible protective measures. In addition, they present the results of the InterregIIIA project which was carried out at the Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry Laimburg (South Tyrol) for the purpose of genetic characterization of the white-clawed crayfish stocks from South and North Tyrol and Carinthia. These population genetic information provides an important basis for planned resettlement measures.
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