Trophic ecology of invasive marbled and spiny-cheek crayfish populations

Abstract

North American cambarid crayfish have been highly successful in establishing and spreading across Europe and are now over-invading earlier arrivals in many water bodies. Parthenogenetic marbled crayfish (Procambarus virginalis), which originated from aquarium stocks, are relatively recent invaders and have established in lakes previously invaded by spiny-cheek crayfish (Faxonius limosus). However, the feeding ecology of marbled crayfish and consequential impacts on the non-native species’ coexistence are largely unexplored. By combining laboratory experiments with stable isotope analyses of field samples, we were able to (1) determine food preferences of both species under controlled conditions and (2) explore their trophic niches in three lakes where both species co-occur. In the food-choice laboratory experiments, the two species showed similar food preferences and consumption rates. Consistently, the stable isotope analyses (δ13C and δ15N) highlighted the intermediate trophic position of both species. Marbled crayfish and spiny-cheek crayfish occupied a wide range of trophic positions corresponding to a very generalist diet. However, marbled crayfish were more relying on arthropod prey than spiny-cheek crayfish which fed more on mollusks. This is the first work providing evidence for trophic plasticity of marbled crayfish in lake food webs. Our results suggest that the addition of marbled crayfish increases grazing pressure on macrophytes and macrophyte-dependent organisms and the allochthonous detritus decomposition in ecosystems already invaded by spiny-cheek crayfish. Since both species are listed as invasive alien species of EU concern, further assessments of potentially endangered food organisms are needed.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Michael Pfeiffer and Christoph Chucholl for sharing their knowledge on crayfish and helping us in the field. We further thank Larissa Goebel for taking care of the crayfish and assisting us during the study. Finally, we thank Sofia Schütt, Robert Nikolaus, Alban Sagouis and Jorrit Lucas for their help during sampling and Ashley Trudeau for her support in the lab. Furthermore, we would like to thank Robert Arlinghaus for providing additional data. SL and JJ were financially supported by IGB and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG; JE 288/9-1, JE 288/9-2). CM was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF within the Collaborative Project ‘Bridging in Biodiversity Science—BIBS’ (Funding Number 01LC1501A-H). SM was jointly financed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) with funds granted by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU; Grant Number: 01LC1320A; www.baggersee-forschung.de).

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Appendix

Appendix

See Tables 4, 5 and Fig. 4.

Table 4 Pairwise comparisons of posterior trophic positions and Post’s (2002) α (littoral reliance)
Table 5 Posterior trophic position estimates and posterior alpha (α) estimates for marbled crayfish (M) and spiny-cheek crayfish (S) populations from Bayesian Models with two different sets of trophic discrimination factors (median and [95% credibility interval]) and parametric trophic position estimates (± standard deviation) according to Post (2002)

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Linzmaier, S.M., Musseau, C., Matern, S. et al. Trophic ecology of invasive marbled and spiny-cheek crayfish populations. Biol Invasions 22, 3339–3356 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-020-02328-z

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Keywords

  • Prey choice
  • Food selection
  • Stable isotope analysis
  • Over-invasions
  • MixSIAR
  • Functional equivalence
  • Trophic niche