Mutant invasive crayfish found infesting ponds in Taipei City park

A species of crayfish that reproduces asexually, and first appeared in Germany in 1995 before spreading through Europe and Africa, has been found infesting ponds in Da’an Forest Park, Taipei City.

Taipei City Councilor Lo Chih-chiang (罗智强) held a press conference today, and said that a large number of the marbled crayfish had appeared in the ecological ponds of Da’an Forest Park.

Lo revealed that the marbled crayfish were first discovered in the park in June last year by Associate Professor Rita Sau Wai Yam, of the Department of Bioenvironmental Systems Engineering, National Taiwan University.

Entomologist and firefly expert Wu Chia-Hsiung said that the appearance of the crayfish in the ecological ponds could have disastrous consequences, as the crayfish destroy aquatic plants, which destroys the habitat of fireflies.

Wang Shu-ya, director of the Youth Park Management Office said that park staff have been cooperating with the Friends of Da’an Park Foundation to trap the crayfish. Wang said that the situation has improved slightly, however, they have not ruled out the possibility of draining the ponds in the future to completely remove the pests.

Marbled crayfish caught in Da’an Forest Park. Picture: Friends of Da’an Park Foundation.

Experts believe that the source of the crayfish is likely to be people releasing unwanted aquarium pets.

The marbled crayfish was first discovered in Germany in 1995. Researchers believe that the new species was probably the result of a mutation in a single generation around 1995, according to Science magazine.

Every member of the species is female, and capable of reproducing on its own, without the need for a male. The ecological implication is that just one individual released is capable of reproducing, making the species particularly invasive.

Since its discovery, the marbled crayfish has spread through Europe and Africa, and has also been found in Israel, and Japan.

The European Union has completely banned the selling, keeping, distribution, or release of the animals.

The scientific name for the marbled crayfish is Procambarus fallax forma virginalis.

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