Can the parthenogenetic marbled crayfish Marmorkrebs compete with other crayfish species in fights?
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The parthenogenetic marbled crayfish, Marmorkrebs, has no known wild population, but has been introduced into natural ecosystems in two continents. Interactions with native crayfish, particularly through fighting, could affect the ecological impact of Marmorkrebs introductions. Marmorkrebs have been characterized anecdotally as having low levels of aggression, which could mitigate their potential to compete with native species. We isolated Marmorkrebs and Louisiana red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii), then conducted size-matched intra and interspecific pairings. Marmorkrebs were as likely to win a fight as P. clarkii, although contests between P. clarkii and Marmorkrebs began significantly faster than contests between two Marmorkrebs. These results suggest that Marmorkrebs have the potential to compete with other species on the same level as P. clarkii, which is itself a highly successful introduced species around the world.
KeywordsAggression Crayfish Competition Invasive species Marbled crayfish Marmorkrebs Louisiana red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii
The project was supported by the National Science Foundation Small Grant for Exploratory Research (award IOS-0813581) and Research Experience for Undergraduates program (award DBI-0649273, supporting S.A.J.). We thank Steffen Harzsch and Silvia Sintoni (Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology) for the gift of Marmorkrebs that started the Faulkes laboratory Marmorkrebs research colony.
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