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The bad and the super-bad: prioritising the threat of six invasive alien to three imperilled native crayfishes

Abstract

Multiple species invasions and limited resources for management require prioritisation of deleterious effects of invaders on imperilled native species. This study prioritises the threat of six non-indigenous crayfish species (NICS) to three indigenous crayfish species (ICS) in southwestern Germany, a European region with high diversity of crayfish species and freshwater habitats. Using multivariate statistical analyses and niche-based species distribution models, the (1) contemporary and potential range overlap, (2) habitat overlap, and (3) rate of spread of the nine species were assessed. Predicted and contemporary range overlap with ICS was consistently the highest for the alien signal crayfish. Environmental niches of ICS tended to be associated with cooler temperatures (except for white-clawed crayfish), lower Human Influence Index, and higher terrain slope than that of alien Orconectes and Procambarus species, but were mostly similar to that of signal crayfish. Habitat overlap was found to be the highest between signal crayfish and ICS. In contrast to Orconectes and Procambarus species, signal crayfish also invade headwaters, where the most ICS populations occur. Range expansion during the past 15 years was the highest for signal crayfish, followed by Orconectes species. Because of the great potential to invade as-yet isolated refuge areas and spread at a high rate, signal crayfish is of the highest concern for conservation of ICS and should be primarily targeted by prevention and control measures. However, it merely represents the ‘worst of the worst’, since all NICS of North American origin are natural reservoirs of crayfish plague, a fatal disease of ICS.

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Acknowledgments

I thank S. Blank (Fisheries Research Station Baden-Wuerttemberg) for his invaluable assistance with handling the FiAKa database. A. Brinker, T. Basen (both Fisheries Research Station BW), one anonymous reviewer, and Z. Faulkes (University of Texas Rio Grande Valley) are thanked for helpful comments on the manuscript. I also acknowledge the following persons (in alphabetical order) for kindly providing crayfish records: J. Abele, S. Bauer, R. Biss, A. Fichtner, S. Hemmerle, J. Jilg, U. Junghans, B. Kappus, F. Künemund, G. Maier, M. Martens, A. Megerle, F. Pätzold, P. Pfeiffer, S. Phillipson, P. Rudolph, F. Sauter, D. Schmid, W. Sitter, K. Strauß, P. Weisser, F. Wendler, C. Wenzel, and S. Werner. I gratefully acknowledge the financial support received from the fisheries levy of Baden-Wuerttemberg. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily of his parent organisation.

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Chucholl, C. The bad and the super-bad: prioritising the threat of six invasive alien to three imperilled native crayfishes. Biol Invasions 18, 1967–1988 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-016-1141-2

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Keywords

  • Aquatic invaders
  • Risk assessment
  • Crustacea
  • Distribution models
  • Habitat association