How consumption and fragmentation of macrophytes by the invasive crayfish Procambarus clarkii shape the macrophyte communities of temporary ponds
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Crayfish are major herbivores in freshwaters, and their activity may change invaded freshwater ecosystems. Macrophyte removal by crayfish results from consumption and fragmentation of plant material and may depend upon the palatability of each species. We studied the impact of Procambarus clarkii on the macrophyte community of Mediterranean temporary ponds, testing in laboratory if consumption and fragmentation of five macrophyte species were correlated in palatability tests and in a preference test. We performed an experiment in a natural pond, where we introduced crayfish and estimated its effects on macrophyte biomass, number of rooted stalks and number of floating cut stalks. P. clarkii consumed preferably Juncus heterophyllus in both tests and avoided Carex divisa and Ranunculus peltatus in the preference test. In the presence of preferred species, consumption and fragmentation of the non-preferred species were heavily reduced. In the field trial, the “Crayfish” compartment had 31% less macrophyte biomass, 41% less rooted stalks and 92% more floating cut stalks. Crayfish may remove macrophyte species from the community sequentially, from the most to the least preferred species. Impacts of crayfish in temporary ponds may depend on time of invasion and on the composition of the macrophyte community.
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- How consumption and fragmentation of macrophytes by the invasive crayfish Procambarus clarkii shape the macrophyte communities of temporary ponds
Volume 721, Issue 1 , pp 89-98
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- Invasive species
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- Mediterranean temporary ponds
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- Author Affiliations
- 1. Centro de Biologia Ambiental, Departamento de Biologia Animal, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Bloco C2, Campo Grande, 1749-016, Lisbon, Portugal
- 2. Eco-Ethology Research Unit, ISPA, Rua Jardim do Tabaco 34, 1149-041, Lisbon, Portugal
- 3. Museu Nacional História Natural, Universidade de Lisboa, Rua da Escola Politécnica 58, 1250-102, Lisbon, Portugal