Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 52, Issue 2–3, pp 225–233 | Cite as

Shelter-seeking behavior of crayfish, Procambarus clarkii, in elevated carbon dioxide

  • M. D. Robertson
  • M. F. Hernandez
  • S. R. MidwayEmail author
  • C. T. Hasler
  • C. D. Suski


Carbon dioxide has been found to produce various negative consequences for a number of aquatic species and is projected to rise in the future for many aquatic ecosystems. Crayfish act as indicators of water quality and function as keystone species in aquatic food webs; however, there is a paucity of research on how crayfish may respond to elevated CO2. This study quantified how shelter-seeking behavior in freshwater crayfish (e.g., family Cambaridae), a behavior critical for survival and fitness, may change following exposure to elevated pCO2. Red Swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii, Girard, 1852) were exposed to one of three potential levels of dissolved CO2 that could be found in freshwater basins currently or under future climate change conditions: Control (< 100 μatm), Low (6853 ± 1206 μatm), and High (19,086 ± 2043 μatm) for 8 days, and were then transferred to a treatment aquarium with the same CO2 levels as the respective initial exposure. The treatment aquarium contained a shelter and was divided into three equal sections based on proximity to that shelter. Crayfish proximity to the shelter (defined by the tank sections) in the treatment aquarium was monitored every 5 s for a 2-min trial. Crayfish spent differing amounts of time in differing zones of the experiment and had different levels of activity, depending on their pCO2 exposure; crayfish acclimated to High pCO2 increased their time spent hiding and decreased their overall activity when compared to the Low pCO2 and Control treatments. Augmented shelter-seeking behavior may affect crayfish social hierarchies, feeding, mating, and mortality, which could generate cascading effects on the ecology of many freshwater ecosystems.


Acidification Climate change Competition Crustacean Freshwater 



We thank Joshua Ellis, Scotlandville Magnet High School, and the Louisiana State University Chapter of the EnvironMentors program for assisting in the study design. We also thank Thomas Blanchard for his assistance with acquisition of materials and chemical expertise and Dr. Greg Lutz and the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center for assistance with crayfish collections. We also thank three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Oceanography and Coastal SciencesLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Natural Resources and Environmental SciencesUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiologyThe University of WinnipegWinnipegUSA

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