, Volume 658, Issue 1, pp 303–315 | Cite as

Predation by the invasive American signal crayfish, Pacifastacus leniusculus Dana, on the invasive zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha Pallas: the potential for control and facilitation

  • Philine S. E. zu ErmgassenEmail author
  • David C. Aldridge
Primary research paper


Non-indigenous crayfish often have major ecological impacts on invaded water bodies, and have contributed to the decline of native crayfish species throughout Europe. The American signal crayfish, Pacifastacus leniusculus, is the most widespread invasive crayfish in Great Britain, where the zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, is similarly an invasive pest species. The potential for the American signal crayfish to regulate zebra mussel populations was investigated through a series of laboratory experiments. Crayfish were found to be highly size selective, consuming significantly more of the smallest size class of zebra mussels offered (7–12 mm), over medium (16–21 mm) and large (25–30 mm). Crayfish feeding rate on zebra mussels was not altered when mussels were presented clumped together in natural druses compared with mussels in a disassembled druse. Crayfish spent significantly more time foraging when mussels were unattached, and a greater proportion of attacks were on medium and large than on small mussels (83% of attacks were on medium and large mussels when unattached as opposed to 47% when on druses). Individual crayfish feeding rate decreased significantly at densities of > ~5 crayfish m−2. Signal crayfish are, therefore, unlikely to be able to significantly impact established populations of zebra mussels in the wild, although zebra mussels have the potential to provide crayfish with a substantial food source.


Non-native Exotic Alien Decapod Control 



The authors would like to thank Claudia Comberti, Ian Goldstone, Caroline Dingle and Jonathan Gair for their assistance. We would also like to thank Chivers Farm for access to Impington Lake, and Roy Grubb, Alf Ives and Adam Hall for zebra mussel collection. This study was funded by a Natural Environment Research Council studentship to P.S.E.z.E. (NER/S/A/2005/13273) and the British water industry.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philine S. E. zu Ermgassen
    • 1
    Email author
  • David C. Aldridge
    • 1
  1. 1.Aquatic Ecology Group, Department of ZoologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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