Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Invasive crayfish outperform potamonautid crabs at higher temperatures.

Abstract

Data on ecological impacts of freshwater crayfish invasions in Africa are scarce but invasion history suggests the likelihood of negative implications for biodiversity. To evaluate the potential for ecological impacts we describe the consumer-resource dynamics of two established crayfish species (Cherax quadricarinatus and Procambarus clarkii) in comparison with the native trophic analogue, the freshwater crab Potamonautes perlatus preying upon Clarias gariepinus fry using comparative functional responses (FRs) and FR ratio (FRR). Experiments were conducted under dark and light conditions as well as low (19°C) and high (28°C) temperature treatments. All three species exhibited potentially population destabilising Type II (hyperbolic) FRs towards prey, which was significantly higher in the dark than in the light. At low temperatures, P. perlatus exhibited the highest maximum feeding estimate although the FR curve was not significantly different from C. quadricarinatus at the highest prey densities. Both crayfish species had higher attack rates at both temperatures and consumed significantly more prey at the high temperature than P. perlatus. The FRR of both crayfish species at the high temperature treatment was higher than that of P. perlatus due to high attack rate and low handling parameters. At 19°C, P. perlatus had a higher or negligible relative FR magnitude compared to P. clarkii and C. quadricarinatus respectively, which suggests some degree of biotic resistance at this temperature; however, this resistance is decreased at 28°C. Cherax quadricarinatus consistently had disruptive FR parameters across both temperatures. Findings from this study represent an important step towards understanding the impacts of crayfish in Africa for public authorities and environmental managers. The two invasive crayfish species have the potential to exert greater per capita impacts on benthic prey communities in invaded systems as shown by their high FRs and FRRs. Furthermore, C. quadricarinatus is an emerging invader globally and our results provide evidence of potential for negative ecological impact regardless of thermal conditions. African countries and their respective environmental managers should therefore maximise efforts to prevent the introduction and spread of these invaders to conserve native biodiversity.