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Invasive crayfish impacts on native fish diet and growth vary with fish life stage

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>01/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Aquatic Sciences - Research Across Boundaries
Issue number1
Volume79
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)113-125
Publication statusPublished
Early online date22/04/16
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Assessing the impacts of invasive organisms is a major challenge in ecology. Some widespread invasive species such as crayfish are potential competitors and reciprocal predators of ecologically and recreationally important native fish species. Here, we examine the effects of signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) on the growth, diet, and trophic position of the chub (Squalius cephalus) in four rivers in Britain. Growth rates of 0+ chub were typically lower in sympatric populations with signal crayfish compared with allopatric populations, and this effect could be traced through to 2+ chub in one river. However, growth rates of older chub (5+ to 6+) were typically higher in the presence of crayfish. Sympatry with crayfish resulted in lower chub length-at-age and mass-at-age in half of the rivers sampled, with no change detected in the other rivers. Stable isotope analyses (δ13C and δ15N) revealed that both chub and crayfish were omnivorous, feeding at multiple trophic levels and occupying similar trophic positions. We found some evidence that chub trophic position was greater at invaded sites on one river, with no difference detected on a second river. Mixing models suggested crayfish were important food items for both small and large chub at invaded sites. This study provides evidence that invasive species can have both positive and negative effects on different life stages of a native species, with the net impact likely to depend on responses at the population level.