Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Diatoms prefer strangers: non-indigenous crayfish host completely different epizoic algal diatom communities from sympatric native species.

Abstract

Despite their wide distribution and ecological importance, almost no information is available about the role of freshwater crayfish as basibiont for epizoic algae. Moreover, studies on epizoic freshwater diatoms have been largely neglected. In this study, we examined the occurrence of diatoms on two sympatric species, the native white-clawed crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes and the non-indigenous signal crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus, coexisting in the same stream in NW Italy. We detected that signal crayfish showed a far more productive epizoic algal community than white-clawed crayfish. Microscopical analysis confirmed that non-indigenous crayfish hosted rich and diversified diatom communities while virtually no diatom was found on the native. After analyzing different hypotheses, we suggested that this significant difference can be the result of diverse crayfish behavioral habits. Because of the lack of studies investigating epibiontic diatoms on freshwater crayfish, we performed a detailed characterization on the epizoic flora, including comparisons with natural epilithic communities. The exponential diffusion of non-indigenous freshwater crayfish is a subject of greatest interest. Increasing our knowledge on their role as basibionts is definitely necessary to better understand their ecological role, also considering their influence on primary producer community and their role as vectors of algal species of concern, such as Didymosphenia geminata.