The signal crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus (Dana, 1852) of North American origin was introduced to Europe (to Scandinavia) in the 1960s. Since that time due to translocation to many countries, biological features and ecological plasticity, it became widespread, invasive and displaced native species. The paper reports first multi- point colonization of P. leniusculus in the Polish rivers. The aim of the study was to determine the current distribution of the signal crayfish in the coastal Baltic tributary (the River Wieprza) after 20 years of deliberate releases in its drainage area. During sampling at 28 sites with use of the “Pirate” crayfish traps and hand collection methods in spring and summer 2014, 127 P. leniusculus individuals were found at 8 sites in the Wieprza and its two tributaries, both away from and close to known sites of their introduction in 1995 and 1996 in the Wieprza River drainage area. The species spreads via the Wieprza River towards the Baltic brackish waters. With such expansion of this species, it is expected to be found in Polish coastal waters of the Baltic Sea and in other coastal rivers in the near future. The conflict between legal aspects of the signal crayfish farming, colonization by the species of the natural aquatic ecosystems and the expectations of consumers is discussed.
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Vol. 65 • No. 3