Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Ecological and potential socioeconomic impacts of two globally-invasive crayfish.

Abstract

Quantifying the impacts of invasive species, relative to native analogues, is crucial for management and policy development. Two freshwater crayfish species of global concern, Cherax quadricarinatus and Procambarus clarkii, have established populations across Africa. Negative impacts on native biodiversity and socioeconomic impacts have been documented in other continents; however, there is a paucity of information on impacts from Africa and for C. quadricarinatus. To fill this literature gap, this study used laboratory experiments to determine potential ecological and socioeconomic impacts conferred by the crayfish species relative to a functionally similar native analogue, the river crab Potamonautes perlatus, on two static, but different resources. Consumption rates were derived for the three focal species consuming the macrophyte Potamogeton nodosus and dead Oreochromis mossambicus under different temperatures regimes (19°C and 28°C), representing summer and winter seasons in Southern Africa, with maximum feeding rate used to infer impact. Potamogeton represents ecologically-important nutrient cycling macrophytes, as well as crucial habitat for juvenile fish, whereas dead O. mossambicus was used as proxy for fish catches in artisanal gillnet fisheries often scavenged by crayfish. Consumption of both resources by all the decapods increased with temperature. However, the two invasive crayfish showed different impact trends where P. clarkii had a significantly higher consumption of macrophytes than the other two decapods regardless of temperature and the same trends seen, but for C. quadricarinatus scavenging on fish. Crayfish introductions clearly have potential for highly destructive ecological and socioeconomic impacts to invaded systems as compared to the native crabs. The disparity between resource use emphasises the necessity to use appropriate geographical and species-specific contexts to avoid erroneous conclusions from generalised risk assessments. Derived feeding rates can be used for rapid impact assessments and comparisons in other invasion cores.