Title: The Invasive Crayfish Orconectes Limosus in Lake Varese: Estimating Abundance and Population Size Structure in the Context of Habitat and Methodological Constraints
Authors: PILOTTO FrancescaFREE GaryCROSA GiuseppeSENA FABRIZIOGHIANI MichelaCARDOSO Ana Cristina
Citation: JOURNAL OF CRUSTACEAN BIOLOGY vol. 28 no. 4 p. 633-640
Publication Year: 2008
JRC N°: JRC42341
ISSN: 0278-0372
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC42341
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Invasive alien species (IAS) potentially may alter all levels of the ecological organization of aquatic water bodies. Therefore, in the context of the EU Water Framework Directive, they represent a significant pressure that should be considered in the assessment of the ecological status of a water body and in the formation of restorative programs. Crayfish are among those IAS with the greatest potential to alter freshwater ecosystems. A study was carried out to examine different sampling techniques and to assess the current population structure and the differences in spatial distribution of the alien crayfish Orconectes limosus, at four sites in Lake Varese (Northern Italy). Three sampling methods were used: mark-recapture, catch per unit effort during night-time snorkeling and quadrat sampling. For the mark¿recapture exercise the ventral somites of crayfish were marked using visible implant elastomer tags. A laboratory experiment was used to validate the use of elastomer tags for the species prior to their use in the field. Crayfish were more abundant at sites characterized by stone substrate than at sites dominated by macrophytes. Hydromorphological alteration of the shoreline (quantified using the newly developed lake habitat survey methodology) at one site appeared to promote the establishment of alien crayfish. Crayfish caught by snorkelling in open water led to an underestimation of the smallest size-classes compared with underwater quadrats. Underwater quadrats on stone substrates provide a quantitative estimation of abundance and size-structure allowing the comparisons of crayfish populations from different lakes. This could be applied to assess the extent of pressure resulting from alien crayfish under the Water Framework Directive. Crayfish biomass was comparable to that of macroinvertebrates indicating their importance in the structure and functioning of the lake ecosystem. The presence of a second alien species of crayfish, Procambarus clarkii, was recorded for the first time in the lake.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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