Factors affecting the establishment of the invasive crayfish Procambarus clarkii (Crustacea, Decapoda) in the Mediterranean rivers of the northeastern Iberian Peninsula
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It is essential to find the combination of factors associated with ecosystem invasibility, as this forms part of basic knowledge on biological invasions and provides important information to guide management and conservation decisions. We surveyed 325 sampling sites in Catalonia to investigate relationships between crayfish presence and a series of biotic and abiotic factors, including fish abundance and species richness, geographical features, and water mineralization and eutrophication. Abiotic data provided by 29 environmental variables were studied by principal-components analysis. We then used a combination of three statistical approaches (comparison of average scores, general linear mixed models, and hierarchical partitioning analysis) to determine the potential relationship between crayfish occurrence and predictors. Our findings seem to indicate that the presence of crayfish was associated with geographical features, water mineralization and eutrophication, and the introduction of non-indigenous fish species to Catalonia. Our results also suggest that re-establishment of the natural hydrology of Mediterranean streams could hinder the spread of Procambarus clarkii. This, combined with preservation of headwater streams and attempts at local extirpation of P. clarkii, would favour native species and, potentially, enable the successful reintroduction of the native white-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes species complex).
KeywordsProcambarus clarkii Environmental pressures Ecosystem invasibility Fish communities Mediterranean streams
We dedicate this work to the memory of Sergio Sánchez, who unexpectedly died in 2004. The red swamp crayfish was the research topic of his DEA dissertation and he worked on the preliminary analyses of this manuscript. We want to dedicate this paper to his enthusiasm in field work and database management on this and other projects he participated in while he was working in the University of Barcelona’s Department of Animal Biology. We would like to add to this tribute other members of the Department who had the opportunity to share work and leisure time with Sergio, in particular: C. Franch, D. Vinyoles, F. Casals, N. Caiola, O. Gordo, E. Ribes, X. Ferrer, and J.D. Rodríguez-Teijeiro. We also thank the Catalan Water Agency (Agència Catalana de l’Aigua) for financial support and Toffa Evans for revising the English. We also thank four anonymous referees and an associate editor for their constructive review.
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