UK University’s Crayfish Conservation On Global Stage

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International crayfish expert Professor David Rogers is preparing for an important invitation to visit Japan next week to foster closer links with conservation and academic counterparts in the Land of the Rising Sun.

David, a Visiting Professor of Freshwater Biology at the University of Derby, based in the East Midlands of the UK, has spent his career looking at how to protect crayfish across the globe. His company, David Rogers Associates, specialises in this field of research.

He will be a keynote speaker at a symposium in Sapporo, Hokkaido, on September 23 and is also set to appear on NHK (the Japan Broadcasting Corporation), one of the main Japanese television stations, to discuss crayfish conservation, as part of his visit.

David will talk to symposium delegates about how crayfish are protected and supported within habitats in Englandand Europe, and learn about the issues facing Japan in relation to crayfish plague.

The Japanese are keen to protect their native crayfish, Cambaroides japonicus. In Hokkaidoit is threatened by signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus), which is an introduced alien species.

It is hoped that he and academic colleague, Dr Tadashi Kawai from Hokkaido, will then take part in a collaborative research project sharing their combined expertise to address current issues in relation to crayfish in Japan.

A second issue across the country, which may also be highlighted during the national TV interview with Professor Rogers, is that Red Swamp crayfish (Procambarus/Scapulicambarus clarkia) – another introduced alien species – has had a destructive effect on many Japanese endemic aquatic insects and plants.

David said: “I am going to make a presentation about how crayfish farming in the UK, which involved the introduction of (non-native) signal crayfish, has had a major impact on the native crayfish and ecosystem.

“I am looking forward to building links in Japanand learning more about the conservation issues it faces with regard to native crayfish.”

In 2007 David was featured in the news due to his successful work to reintroduce the white-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes) into the River Lathkill, a popular tourist destination and Nature Reserve in Derbyshire's Peak District National Park.

White-clawed crayfish (the crayfish native to the UK) is in severe peril from crayfish plague, spreading throughout the country. David Rogers Associates and Natural England teamed up to reintroduce the species into the River Lathkill following elimination of the natural population by a plague outbreak.

Experimentation to rear captive crayfish for reintroduction proved successful. The scientists developed methods to rear large numbers of the crayfish from relatively small numbers of imported stock found nearby.

David is Lead Partner for the UK Biodiversity Action Plan Steering Group for crayfish, a Chartered Environmentalist, a Fellow of the British Institute of Agricultural Consultants, Member of the Institute of Fisheries Management and the British Trout Association; and a former President of the International Association of Astacology.

He previously presented the University of Derbywith a comprehensive academic resource consisting of documents and studies about the crayfish. The document entitled IAA 15 has put Derby on the map as a vital information resource for ecologists in this field of study.