Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Trophic role of marbled crayfish in a lentic freshwater ecosystem.

Abstract

Species' introductions may cause severe adverse effects on freshwater ecosystems and their biota. The marbled crayfish, Procambarus virginalis Lyko, 2017, is an invasive parthenogenetically reproducing crayfish with rapid reproduction, maturation and tolerance to a wide range of environmental conditions, which was introduced to many sites across Europe during the last decade. Due to its recent speciation and limited number of field studies, the knowledge of trophic interactions of the marbled crayfish in freshwater food webs is scarce. An invaded area located in Central Europe was studied to identify the marbled crayfish food web interactions using analysis of carbon 13C and nitrogen 15N isotopes. This study brings the first insight into the trophic ecology of marbled crayfish in lentic freshwater ecosystems. Algae and detritus were identified as the most important food sources for the marbled crayfish, while zoobenthos and macrophytes were less important. Moreover, the marbled crayfish was found to be an important food source for top fish predators, but marginal for omnivorous fish. Being able to utilize energy from the bottom of the trophic food web, the marbled crayfish may have important roles in the ecosystem, transferring energy to higher trophic levels. It processes allochthonous and autochthonous matter in the ecosystem, thus being a competitor to other organisms with similar food preferences and impacting zoobenthos, algae and macrophytes through predation or direct consumption. To sum up, the marbled crayfish has a strong ability to utilize food sources from different trophic levels, and, thanks to its life history, can be a highly adaptable invader.