Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Only one can remain? Environmental and spatial factors influencing habitat partitioning among invasive and native crayfishes in the Pannonian Ecoregion (Hungary).

Abstract

Biological invasions have increasingly threatened indigenous species, influence metacommunity organisation and consequently, global biodiversity. World-wide expansion of non-indigenous crayfish (NICS) is associated with dramatic changes in species poor indigenous crayfish (ICS) assemblages challenging conservation planning. We analysed long-term changes of crayfish occurrences from the pre-invasion state, through the first appearance of NICS, to their intensive spread in Hungarian waters. Further, we analysed present-day crayfish metacommunity patterns for co-occurrences and influence of spatial and environmental factors. Historic data revealed a marked pre-invasion decline in indigenous noble crayfish Astacus astacus and stone crayfish Austropotamobius torrentium populations, but not in the narrow-clawed crayfish Pontastacus leptodactylus. Historic data provided no direct evidence for the impact of NICS on ICS, rather it supported that NICS often entered areas where ICS had been extinct or were not present at all. Crayfish species extremely rarely co-occurred which could indicate their strong competition and be related to utilization of empty sites by NICS. Crayfish metacommunities were predominantly spatially structured indicating the primary influence of ongoing invasion. Crayfish species also exhibited different environmental preferences mainly along the altitude and temperature gradients. We conclude that the invasion is still in the expanding phase and without an effective conservational program the future of ICS is doubtful in Hungary. Conservation policy should focus on the preservation and reintroduction of the stone and noble crayfishes in highland refugees. Expansion of NICS should be prevented in refugee areas by utilizing possibilities provided by natural and artificial barriers, and education and strict ban should be simultaneously applied to prevent further illegal releases by aquarists.