Functional traits explain crayfish invasive success in the Netherlands.
ABSTRACT: Biological invasions by nonindigenous species can have negative effects on economies and ecosystems. To limit this impact, current research on biological invasions uses functional traits to facilitate a mechanistic understanding of theoretical and applied questions. Here we aimed to assess the role of functional traits in the progression of crayfish species through different stages of invasion and determine the traits associated with invasive success. A dataset of thirteen functional traits of 15 species currently occurring or available for sale in the Netherlands was evaluated. Six of these crayfish appeared invasive. Important traits distinguishing successful from unsuccessful invaders were a temperate climate in the native range, a medium to high egg count and producing more than one egg clutch per year. The most successful invaders had different functional trait combinations: Procambarus clarkii has a higher reproductive output, can migrate over longer distances and possesses a higher aggression level; Faxonius limosus is adapted to a colder climate, can reproduce parthenogetically and has broader environmental tolerances. Using a suit of functional traits to analyse invasive potential can help risk management and prevention. For example, based on our data Procambarus virginalis is predicted to become the next successful invasive crayfish in the Netherlands.
Project description:Biological invasions are impacting biota worldwide, and explaining why some taxa tend to become invasive is of major scientific interest. North American crayfish species, particularly of the family Cambaridae, are prominent invaders in freshwaters, defying the "tens rule" which states that only a minority of species introduced to new regions become established, and only a minority of those become invasive and pests. So far, success of cambarid invaders has largely been attributed to rapid maturation, high reproductive output, aggressiveness, and tolerance to pollution. We provide experimental evidence that females of one cambarid species particularly widespread in Europe, the spiny-cheek crayfish Orconectes limosus, are capable of facultative parthenogenesis. Such reproductive mode has never before been recognized in decapods, the most diverse crustacean order. As shown by analysis of seven microsatellite loci, crayfish females kept physically separated from males produced genetically homogeneous offspring identical with maternal individuals; this suggests they reproduced by apomixis, unlike those females which mated with males and had a diverse offspring. Further research is needed to clarify what environmental conditions are necessary for a switch to parthenogenesis in O. limosus, and what role it plays in natural crayfish populations. However, if such reproductive plasticity is present in other cambarid crayfish species, it may contribute to the overwhelming invasive success of this group.
Project description:Biological invasions have the potential to alter ecosystem processes profoundly, but invaders are rarely found alone. Interactions between different invasive alien species, and their cumulative impact on ecosystem functioning, have led to hypotheses of invasion meltdown whereby effects become additive leading to further ecosystem stress. Invasive riparian plants (e.g., Rhododendron ponticum) deposit leaf litter in freshwaters, which may be unconsumed by indigenous species, potentially affecting habitat heterogeneity and flow of energy to the food web. However, invasive alien decapod crustaceans are effective consumers of leaf litter, and it was hypothesized that they would also consume inputs of invasive riparian leaf litter. This study shows that invasive alien signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) and Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis) effectively break down different types of leaf litter, including invasive alien R. ponticum, at higher rates than indigenous white-clawed crayfish. Secondary products were more varied, with more fine particulate organic matter generated for the less palatable alien leaf litter species. Leaf species caused different changes in body mass of decapods but effects were heterogeneous by leaf and decapod: P. leniusculus showed lower mass loss when consuming R. ponticum while E. sinensis lost mass when consuming A. pseudoplatanus. Impacts of riparian invasions on detritus accumulation in freshwaters are thus potentially buffered by invasive alien decapods, illustrating a need for a more detailed consideration of both positive and negative interspecific feedbacks during biological invasions.
Project description:Biological invasions can transform our understanding of how the interplay of historical isolation and contemporary (human-aided) dispersal affects the structure of intraspecific diversity in functional traits, and in turn, how changes in functional traits affect other scales of biological organization such as communities and ecosystems. Because biological invasions frequently involve the admixture of previously isolated lineages as a result of human-aided dispersal, studies of invasive populations can reveal how admixture results in novel genotypes and shifts in functional trait variation within populations. Further, because invasive species can be ecosystem engineers within invaded ecosystems, admixture-induced shifts in the functional traits of invaders can affect the composition of native biodiversity and alter the flow of resources through the system. Thus, invasions represent promising yet under-investigated examples of how the effects of short-term evolutionary changes can cascade across biological scales of diversity. Here, we propose a conceptual framework that admixture between divergent source populations during biological invasions can reorganize the genetic variation underlying key functional traits, leading to shifts in the mean and variance of functional traits within invasive populations. Changes in the mean or variance of key traits can initiate new ecological feedback mechanisms that result in a critical transition from a native ecosystem to a novel invasive ecosystem. We illustrate the application of this framework with reference to a well-studied plant model system in invasion biology and show how a combination of quantitative genetic experiments, functional trait studies, whole ecosystem field studies and modeling can be used to explore the dynamics predicted to trigger these critical transitions.
Project description:Predator-induced phenotypic plasticity has been widely documented in response to native predators, but studies examining the extent to which prey can respond to exotic invasive predators are scarce. As native prey often do not share a long evolutionary history with invasive predators, they may lack defenses against them. This can lead to population declines and even extinctions, making exotic predators a serious threat to biodiversity. Here, in a community-wide study, we examined the morphological and life-history responses of anuran larvae reared with the invasive red swamp crayfish, Procambarus clarkii, feeding on conspecific tadpoles. We reared tadpoles of nine species until metamorphosis and examined responses in terms of larval morphology, growth, and development, as well as their degree of phenotypic integration. These responses were compared with the ones developed in the presence of a native predator, the larval dragonfly Aeshna sp., also feeding on tadpoles. Eight of the nine species altered their morphology or life history when reared with the fed dragonfly, but only four when reared with the fed crayfish, suggesting among-species variation in the ability to respond to a novel predator. While morphological defenses were generally similar across species (deeper tails) and almost exclusively elicited in the presence of the fed dragonfly, life-history responses were very variable and commonly elicited in the presence of the invasive crayfish. Phenotypes induced in the presence of dragonfly were more integrated than in crayfish presence. The lack of response to the presence of the fed crayfish in five of the study species suggests higher risk of local extinction and ultimately reduced diversity of the invaded amphibian communities. Understanding how native prey species vary in their responses to invasive predators is important in predicting the impacts caused by newly established predator-prey interactions following biological invasions.
Project description:The spreading of new crayfish species poses a serious risk for freshwater ecosystems; because they are omnivores they influence more than one level in the trophic chain and they represent a significant part of the benthic biomass. Both the environmental change through global warming and the expansion of the pet trade increase the possibilities of their spreading. We investigated the potential of four "warm water" highly invasive crayfish species to overwinter in the temperate zone, so as to predict whether these species pose a risk for European freshwaters. We used 15 specimens of each of the following species: the red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii), the marbled crayfish (Procambarus fallax f. virginalis), the yabby (Cherax destructor), and the redclaw (Cherax quadricarinatus). Specimens were acclimatized and kept for 6.5 months at temperatures simulating the winter temperature regime of European temperate zone lentic ecosystems. We conclude that the red swamp crayfish, marbled crayfish and yabby have the ability to withstand low winter temperatures relevant for lentic habitats in the European temperate zone, making them a serious invasive threat to freshwater ecosystems.
Project description:The Honghe-Hani landscape in China is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site due to the beauty of its thousands of rice terraces, but these structures are in danger from the invasive crayfish Procambarus clarkii. Crayfish dig nest holes, which collapse terrace walls and destroy rice production. Under the current control strategy, farmers self-report crayfish and are issued pesticide, but this strategy is not expected to eradicate the crayfish nor to prevent their spread since farmers are not able to detect small numbers of crayfish. Thus, we tested whether environmental DNA (eDNA) from paddy-water samples could provide a sensitive detection method. In an aquarium experiment, Real-time Quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) successfully detected crayfish, even at a simulated density of one crayfish per average-sized paddy (with one false negative). In a field test, we tested eDNA and bottle traps against direct counts of crayfish. eDNA successfully detected crayfish in all 25 paddies where crayfish were observed and in none of the 7 paddies where crayfish were absent. Bottle-trapping was successful in only 68% of the crayfish-present paddies. eDNA concentrations also correlated positively with crayfish counts. In sum, these results suggest that single samples of eDNA are able to detect small crayfish populations, but not perfectly. Thus, we conclude that a program of repeated eDNA sampling is now feasible and likely reliable for measuring crayfish geographic range and for detecting new invasion fronts in the Honghe Hani landscape, which would inform regional control efforts and help to prevent the further spread of this invasive crayfish.
Project description:We tested whether two basic thermal requirements for insect development, lower developmental thresholds, i.e. temperatures at which development ceases, and sums of effective temperatures, i.e. numbers of day degrees above the lower developmental thresholds necessary to complete development, differ among insect species that proved to be successful invaders in regions outside their native range and those that did not. Focusing on species traits underlying invasiveness that are related to temperature provides insights into the mechanisms of insect invasions. The screening of thermal requirements thus could improve risk-assessment schemes by incorporating these traits in predictions of potentially invasive insect species. We compared 100 pairs of taxonomically-related species originating from the same continent, one invasive and the other not reported as invasive. Invasive species have higher lower developmental thresholds than those never recorded outside their native ranges. Invasive species also have a lower sum of effective temperatures, though not significantly. However, the differences between invasive and non-invasive species in the two physiological measures were significantly inversely correlated. This result suggests that many species are currently prevented from invading by low temperatures in some parts of the world. Those species that will overcome current climatic constraints in regions outside their native distribution due to climate change could become even more serious future invaders than present-day species, due to their potentially faster development.
Project description:The crayfish fauna of West Virginia consists of 23 species and several undescribed taxa. Most survey efforts documenting this fauna have been conducted in lotic waterways throughout the Appalachian plateau, Allegheny Mountains, and Ridge and Valley physiographic provinces. Bottomland forests, swamps, and marshes associated with large river floodplain such as the Ohio River floodplain historically have been under-surveyed in the state. These habitats harbor the richest primary burrowing crayfish fauna in West Virginia, and are worthy of survey efforts. In an effort to fill this void, the crayfish fauna of West Virginia's Ohio River floodplain was surveyed from 2004 through 2009. From this survey, nine species from four genera were documented inhabiting the floodplain. Zoogeography, biology, and conservation status is provided for all nine crayfishes. The dominant genus along the floodplain is Cambarus, which includes Cambarus (Cambarus) carinirostris, Cambarus (Cambarus) bartonii cavatus, Cambarus (Procambarus) robustus and Cambarus (Tubericambarus) thomai. Cambarus (Tubericambarus) thomai is the most prevalent burrowing species occurring along the floodplain. The genus Orconectes consists of two native species, Orconectes (Cambarus) obscurus and Orconectes (Cambarus) sanbornii; and two invasive taxa, Orconectes (Gremicambarus) virilis and Orconectes (Procambarus) rusticus. Orconectes (Cambarus) obscurus has experienced a range extension to the south and occupies streams formerly occupied by Orconectes (Cambarus) sanbornii. Both invasive taxa were allied with anthropogenic habitats and disturbance gradients. The genera Fallicambarus and Procambarus are represented by a single species. Both Fallicambarus (Cambarus) fodiens and Procambarus (Orconectes) acutus are limited to the historic preglacial Marietta River Valley.
Project description:A major aim of invasion ecology is to identify characteristics of successful invaders. However, most plant groups studied in detail (e.g. pines and acacias) have a high percentage of invasive taxa. Here we examine the global introduction history and invasion ecology of Proteaceae--a large plant family with many taxa that have been widely disseminated by humans, but with few known invaders. To do this we compiled a global list of species and used boosted regression tree models to assess which factors are important in determining the status of a species (not introduced, introduced, naturalized or invasive). At least 402 of 1674 known species (24%) have been moved by humans out of their native ranges, 58 species (14%) have become naturalized but not invasive, and 8 species (2%) are invasive. The probability of naturalization was greatest for species with large native ranges, low susceptibility to Phytophthora root-rot fungus, large mammal-dispersed seeds, and with the capacity to resprout. The probability of naturalized species becoming invasive was greatest for species with large native ranges, those used as barrier plants, tall species, species with small seeds, and serotinous species. The traits driving invasiveness of Proteaceae were similar to those for acacias and pines. However, while some traits showed a consistent influence at introduction, naturalization and invasion, others appear to be influential at one stage only, and some have contrasting effects at different stages. Trait-based analyses therefore need to consider different invasion stages separately. On their own, these observations provide little predictive power for risk assessment, but when the causative mechanisms are understood (e.g. Phytophthora susceptibility) they provide valuable insights. As such there is considerable value in seeking the correlates and mechanisms underlying invasions for particular taxonomic or functional groups.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The marbled crayfish (Procambarus virginalis) is a monoclonal, parthenogenetically reproducing freshwater crayfish species that has formed multiple stable populations worldwide. Madagascar hosts a particularly large and rapidly expanding colony of marbled crayfish in a unique environment characterized by a very high degree of ecological diversity. RESULTS:Here we provide a detailed characterization of five marbled crayfish populations in Madagascar and their habitats. Our data show that the animals can tolerate a wide range of ecological parameters, consistent with their invasive potential. While we detected marbled crayfish in sympatry with endemic crayfish species, we found no evidence for the transmission of the crayfish plague pathogen, a potentially devastating oomycete. Furthermore, our results also suggest that marbled crayfish are active predators of the freshwater snails that function as intermediate hosts for human schistosomiasis. Finally, we document fishing, farming and market sales of marbled crayfish in Madagascar. CONCLUSIONS:Our results provide a paradigm for the complex network of factors that promotes the invasive spread of marbled crayfish. The commercial value of the animals is likely to result in further anthropogenic distribution.