, Volume 728, Issue 1, pp 89-101
Date: 24 Jan 2014

Rainfall stochasticity controls the distribution of invasive crayfish and its impact on amphibian guilds in Mediterranean temporary waters

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Abstract

Invasive crayfish have severely impacted invaded aquatic ecosystems worldwide. We studied temporal and spatial variation in the range expansion of the red swamp crayfish at one of the first European localities to which it was introduced: Doñana National Park (SW Spain). In contrast to the rapid range expansion witnessed in other areas, this invasive crayfish has not spread across the entire park. Instead, its distribution has expanded during wet periods, but contracted during drought periods. The red swamp crayfish has caused steep amphibian declines in other invaded areas. However, after approximately 35 years of crayfish presence in Doñana National Park, we have yet to detect a reduction in the number or occurrence of amphibian species. Amphibians may thus be protected by the large abundance of temporary ponds in the area, which provides them with an effective refuge network. We show that natural fluctuations in annual rainfall and in the number of ponds filled can temporarily eliminate invasive crayfish from particular areas. This fact should be taken into account when attempting to reduce the impact of crayfish on aquatic communities, intensifying crayfish removal during particularly dry years, when it is most effective.

Handling editor: Lee B. Kats