Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Transmission and terrestrial dispersal of non-native ectosymbionts on invasive crayfish.

Abstract

Symbionts are a fundamental component of biological systems, and their survival is highly dependent on transmission and host movement. Ectosymbionts of amphibious animals face the added challenge of having to survive dramatic environmental changes as their hosts cross ecosystem boundaries. Within freshwaters, crayfish are amongst the most widespread invasive species that readily disperse overland and are host to a wide range of ectosymbionts. Relatively little is known about the transmission of these ectosymbionts, including their ability to survive overland host migration. Here, we assessed terrestrial emigration and both inter- and intra-specific transmissions of Xironogiton victoriensis, a non-native branchiobdellidan (Annelida: Clitellata) recently found on invasive signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) in the UK. These branchiobdellidans tolerated desiccation and did not alter host terrestrial behaviour. Transmission was rapid between natural signal and novel virile (Orconectes cf. virilis) crayfish hosts, with host interactions facilitating transmission. Thus, branchiobdellidans can disperse via amphibious host behaviour and readily infect novel hosts. These traits facilitate symbionts' survival and provide access to additional dispersal pathways that are likely to aid transmission.