An invaded invader: high prevalence of entocytherid ostracods on the red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii (Girard, 1852) in the Eastern Iberian Peninsula.
The American red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii (Girard, 1852) was introduced in 1973 into the Iberian Peninsula for commercial purposes. As a result of both the expansion from the Iberian Peninsula and, probably, further introductions in other European countries, now it is widely distributed throughout much of Europe. The ecological impacts of this invading crayfish have received increasing attention, but nothing is known about its symbiotic entocytherid ostracods outside the American continent. The present survey has examined more than 200 crayfishes from 12 localities distributed over a wide area of Eastern Spain. Entocytherid ostracods were extracted from individual crayfishes and they were identified, counted, assigned to developmental instars and sexed. In all the study locations but one, we found at least one crayfish individual infected by entocytherid ostracods and the species determined was the same in all cases: Ankylocythere sinuosa (Rioja, 1942). The number of ostracods on individual P. clarkii varied notably in relation to crayfish size and also differed significantly among sampling sites. The crayfish size effects on ostracod densities might be related to the amount of resources and to the crayfish age and moulting frequency affecting ostracod distribution and population structure. In addition, the spatial variation in ostracod densities could also be related to site-specific habitat traits and the variability of crayfish population dynamics. Our study represents the first citation of an alien entocytherid species in Europe and demonstrates its wide distribution in the Iberian Peninsula. Further research is needed to know the potential effects of this ostracod species on the ecology of P. clarkii and of native species, with implications on the management of this aquatic invader.