French crayfish could boost British stocks

May 9, 1997

Recent research may pave the way for white-clawed crayfish to join the list of British imports from France - not, like most, destined for our culinary world but for our natural one. Severe declines throughout western Europe have prompted calls to re-stock British freshwaters with "foreign" crayfish. Successful re-stocking depends on identifying source populations that are genetically similar enough to native stocks to adapt and survive in the United Kingdom.

Using genetic techniques not previously applied to this species, researchers at the Universities of Nottingham and Poitiers, France, have shown that, whereas crayfish from Wales, Spain and Slovenia are genetically distinct, those from Wales and France are virtually indistinguishable - suggesting the latter could provide a lifeline for dwindling British stocks.

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