Agonistic interactions and dominance establishment in three crayfish species non-native to Europe.
Ecosystems increasingly face concurrent invasions by multiple species, but knowledge about relationships among invasive species is under studied. We examined agonistic encounters among signal crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus, marbled crayfish Procambarus virginalis, and the common yabby Cherax destructor, none native to Europe, to assess the influence of aggression on their success in a sympatric environment. In interspecific interactions, similar-sized signal crayfish were significantly more likely to initiate aggressive encounters and won significantly more fights against similar-sized opponents. The marbled crayfish was the least aggressive and least successful in agonistic interactions. The mean number of fights, fight duration, and number and duration of low and high intensity fights varied significantly between intra- and inter-specific interactions, tending to be more pronounced in conspecific encounters. We concluded that crayfish species differ in fighting strategies employed during intra- and inter-specific interactions. Of the species evaluated, the signal crayfish shows the highest potential to establish dominance. However, factors such as growth rate, reproductive potential, ecosystem variables, and temperature of habitat may alter the competitiveness of an invader.