, Volume 464, Issue 1-3, pp 89-98

The influence of Procambarus clarkii (Cambaridae, Decapoda) on water quality and sediment characteristics in a Spanish floodplain wetland

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This study describes the effects of the American red swamp crayfish, Procambarus clarkii Girard, on water quality and sediment characteristics in the Spanish floodplain wetland, Las Tablas de Daimiel National Park. Our short term enclosure study during a summer drawdown revealed that crayfish acted as a nutrient pump that transformed and translocated sediment bound nutrients to the water column. Water quality impoverishment was mainly due to the increase of dissolved inorganic nutrients (soluble reactive phosphorus and ammonia), and a significant increase of total suspended solids occurred likely as a result of crayfish associated bioturbation. At the same time, crayfish reduced the content of organic matter in the sediment and we observed a slight increase of total sediment phosphorus and nitrogen content as a result of crayfish benthic activity. P. clarkii effects, in terms of internal nutrient loading (229.91 mg TP m−2 d−1), were shown to be important on a local scale, indicating the significance of internal nutrient supply to water column primary producers particularly under low external supply (summer). Extrapolations to the whole ecosystem, however, revealed a negligible crayfish contribution (0.06%) to total internal nutrient loading (0.035 mg TP m−2 d−1). Hence, crayfish spatial heterogeneity patterns are important in global and local matter fluxes and nutrient cycles in wetlands.