Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Study of invasive non-native crayfish reveals the cost and complexity of dealing with the damage they do

The signal crayfish was imported into the UK in the 70s and has had a damaging effect on local ecosystems

How different species of invasive crayfish interact with each other and affect their local environment has been uncovered for the first time by scientists at Queen Mary University of London.

The UK has seven species of crayfish with established populations, but only one is a native species. To examine how the various invasive species interact with each other, the scientists replicated the environment of crayfish species found in the Thames catchment area in 24 ponds to determine the effects on the native invertebrate community.

They also looked at how the presence of the crayfish affected ecosystem processes, such as the creation of organic matter and breakdown of waste products. In addition, through field surveys at the ponds on Hampstead Heath in London and on the River Lea in Essex, the scientists determined how several species that are now co-existing in the wild actually 'fit' into the food web of the native community.

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