Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

The red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii in Europe: impacts on aquatic ecosystems and human well-being.

Abstract

Procambarus clarkii is currently recorded from 16 European territories. On top of being a vector of crayfish plague, which is responsible for large-scale disappearance of native crayfish species, it causes severe impacts on diverse aquatic ecosystems, due to its rapid life cycle, dispersal capacities, burrowing activities and high population densities. The species has even been recently discovered in caves. This invasive crayfish is a polytrophic keystone species that can exert multiple pressures on ecosystems. Most studies deal with the decline of macrophytes and predation on several species (amphibians, molluscs, and macroinvertebrates), highlighting how this biodiversity loss leads to unbalanced food chains. At a management level, the species is considered as (a) a devastating digger of the water drainage systems in southern and central Europe, (b) an agricultural pest in Mediterranean territories, consuming, for example, young rice plants, and (c) a threat to the restoration of water bodies in north-western Europe. Indeed, among the high-risk species, P. clarkii consistently attained the highest risk rating. Its negative impacts on ecosystem services were evaluated. These may include the loss of provisioning services such as reductions in valued edible native species of regulatory and supporting services, inducing wide changes in ecological communities and increased costs to agriculture and water management. Finally, cultural services may be lost. The species fulfils the criteria of the Article 4(3) of Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 of the European Parliament (species widely spread in Europe and impossible to eradicate in a cost-effective manner) and has been included in the "Union List". Particularly, awareness of the ornamental trade through the internet must be reinforced within the European Community and import and trade regulations should be imposed to reduce the availability of this high-risk species.