Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Ecological design of a crayfishing program to control population density of the invasive species Procambarus clarkii in Doñana National Park freshwater marsh (Spain).

Abstract

The exploitation of Procambarus clarkii in Doñana National Park's freshwater marsh (DNP) has been economically important to the local human population since the 1970s. The high density of this crayfish species has been causing a major environmental impact in the Park by the substantial reduction of submerging aquatic macrophytes prairies due to its broad trophic spectrum and feeding habits, which turned the environmental frame (consisting in clear water equilibrium) into a turbid water balance. Differences in population dynamics of three population groups of P. clarkii in the DNP freshwater marsh were compared and analyzed from a fishery perspective. The objective is to reduce their ecological impact using optimal crayfishing management. Maximum growth curves showed that crayfish have different growth optimums. Recruitment of young crayfish varies between different populations; when there is an excessive increase in the density of juveniles in a population and conditions are stressful, their growth is deficient. If these conditions persist, the population could become stunted. Fishery for commercial gain is banned in DNP; however, a model of fisheries program aimed at controlling the excess population of crayfish can be effective in halting the ecological impact of this invasive species while providing an opportunity for poachers to have viable productive options. The model proposed can help to solve the problem of crayfish "poaching" through the legalization and strict control of harvesting practices.