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One step ahead of the enemy: investigating aggressive interactions between invasive and native crayfish before the contact in nature

Abstract

Biological invasions are a major cause of biodiversity loss, and early action in these cases is more cost-effective than dealing with widespread invasions. Thus, understanding possible consequences of invasions is essential for control and management actions. Given the early stage of invasion of South America by Procambarus clarkii, a potentially harmful crayfish, we investigated aggressive interactions between this invasive crayfish and the native Parastacus brasiliensis to understand potential impacts of the invader on native species before they encounter each other in nature. We paired size-matched crayfish for two experiments: one with Pr. clarkii males and females against Pa. brasiliensis; and another with Pr. clarkii intraspecific interactions. We starved the crayfish then allowed to interact in the presence of food. In interspecific fights we compared the number of attacks, time with the resource, frequency of won interactions of each species and the first species to reach the resource. Regarding the interspecific fights, Pr. clarkii attacked more often, spent more time with the resource, won more interactions and reached the resource first more often than Pa. brasiliensis. Interspecific fights escalated faster than intraspecific fights. The invasive crayfish’s ability to win might be enhanced due to ownership effects, and its impact is likely to be severe because of its life-history traits. We conclude that Pr. clarkii is definitely a threat for native crayfish, requiring that immediate actions be taken, such as dam construction and manual removal of Pr. clarkii.

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Acknowledgments

We thank CAPES (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior) for the scholarship for A.V.P. and T.G.L., CAPES/FAPERGS (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul) for the scholarship to M.M.D. and CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico) for the productivity grant to S.S (Process No: 311142/2014-1) and P.B.A (Process No: 302274/2011-1). This work was also supported by CAPES/COFECUB (international consortium Brazil - France) (Project: Freshwater limnetic ecosystems and conservation of freshwater crayfish of the genus Parastacus in southern Brazil - 8209/2012), We thank Mr. Alderi Baggio, Mrs. Lúcia Baggio, and Mr. Charles Zarantonello for allowing us to collect Pa. brasiliensis on their properties, and the staff from the Alfredo Volpi Park for allowing us to collect Pr. clarkii. We thank Nilton Carlos Cáceres, Thomas Heinrich Breithaupt, Gabriel Costa, Ana Beatriz Barros de Morais and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments that improved the manuscript. Lastly, we thank our colleagues from the Núcleo de Estudos em Biodiversidade Aquática for their help in collecting, transporting and maintaining the crayfish, and also during the execution of the experiments.

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Dalosto, M.M., Palaoro, A.V., Souty-Grosset, C. et al. One step ahead of the enemy: investigating aggressive interactions between invasive and native crayfish before the contact in nature. Biol Invasions 17, 3503–3515 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-015-0974-4

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Keywords

  • Aggressive behavior
  • Interspecific interactions
  • Invasion prevention
  • Invasive species
  • Parastacus brasiliensis
  • Procambarus clarkii