Still waters run deep: marbled crayfish dominates over red swamp crayfish in agonistic interactions.
Intra- and interspecific interactions contribute to the successful establishment and consequent spreading of species in the environment, which became particularly apparent in the context of ongoing biological invasions. The parthenogenetic marbled crayfish, Procambarus virginalis, Lyko 2017 is recently recognized as an emerging invader due to its high adaptability, fast growth, early maturation, and high fecundity. The present study explored the interaction patterns of size-matched (including 15 body parts morphometry evaluation) pairs of marbled crayfish and red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii, a well-known highly aggressive and widely distributed invader of freshwater ecosystems. Despite this, marbled crayfish won significantly more fights and establish dominancy in more cases in both premature and mature experimental trials. Premature red swamp crayfish pairs were more active in contact and fight initiation than mature. In mature, the dominance over female red swamp crayfish was 100%, in males it reached 60%. Premature marbled crayfish dominated in more than 75% pairs. Agonistic behaviour and intensity of fights significantly dropped after establishment of dominance in particular (size and sex) pairs. Therefore, we confirmed that sex and age (size) have effects on agonistic behaviour in crayfish as well as the dominance of marbled crayfish within similarly sized specimens. Despite described behavioural patterns, we can expect that the situation in the potential sympatric occurrence of both species will not be as clear as found in experimental conditions due to greater maximal size of red swamp crayfish.