Biological Invasions

, Volume 20, Issue 10, pp 2767–2776 | Cite as

Diatoms prefer strangers: non-indigenous crayfish host completely different epizoic algal diatom communities from sympatric native species

  • Elisa Falasco
  • Tiziano Bo
  • Daniela Ghia
  • Laura Gruppuso
  • Francesca Bona
  • Stefano FenoglioEmail author
Original Paper


Despite their wide distribution and ecological importance, almost no information is available about the role of freshwater crayfish as basibiont for epizoic algae. Moreover, studies on epizoic freshwater diatoms have been largely neglected. In this study, we examined the occurrence of diatoms on two sympatric species, the native white-clawed crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes and the non-indigenous signal crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus, coexisting in the same stream in NW Italy. We detected that signal crayfish showed a far more productive epizoic algal community than white-clawed crayfish. Microscopical analysis confirmed that non-indigenous crayfish hosted rich and diversified diatom communities while virtually no diatom was found on the native. After analyzing different hypotheses, we suggested that this significant difference can be the result of diverse crayfish behavioral habits. Because of the lack of studies investigating epibiontic diatoms on freshwater crayfish, we performed a detailed characterization on the epizoic flora, including comparisons with natural epilithic communities. The exponential diffusion of non-indigenous freshwater crayfish is a subject of greatest interest. Increasing our knowledge on their role as basibionts is definitely necessary to better understand their ecological role, also considering their influence on primary producer community and their role as vectors of algal species of concern, such as Didymosphenia geminata.


Austropotamobius pallipes Bacillariophyceae Epibiosis Freshwater crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus 



We thank G. Badino and E. Piano for their useful suggestions.

Supplementary material

10530_2018_1728_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (33 kb)
Supplementary material 1 List of diatom taxa detected on cobbles and Pacifastacus leniusculus. Red List column refers to the classification concerning the conservation status proposed by Lange-Bertalot and Steindorf (1996): 1 = threatened with extinction. 2 = severely endangered. 3 = endangered. G = probably endangered. R = rare. V = decreasing. * = at present not considered threatened. ? = not threatened. · = common. Z = not listed. D = data scarce. The columns “cobbles” and “crayfish” displayed on which substrate the species was recorded (± included in the inventory; R = rare, observed only during the final screening). The last 11 columns show the percentage of relative abundance of each taxa in the samples. (XLSX 32 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisa Falasco
    • 1
  • Tiziano Bo
    • 2
  • Daniela Ghia
    • 3
  • Laura Gruppuso
    • 2
  • Francesca Bona
    • 1
  • Stefano Fenoglio
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.DBIOSUniversità degli Studi di TorinoTurinItaly
  2. 2.DISITUniversità del Piemonte OrientaleAlessandriaItaly
  3. 3.DSTAUniversità degli Studi di PaviaPaviaItaly

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