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Durham University

Department of Biosciences

Academic Staff

Publication details for Dr Martyn Lucas

Findlay, J.D.S., Riley, W.D. & Lucas, M.C. (2015). Signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) predation upon Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) eggs. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 25(2): 250-258.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

1.The signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) is a large, polytrophic crustacean which has invaded waterways across much of Europe. Crayfish prey on the eggs of several fish species and egg predation, especially by invasive crayfish, is cited as a likely cause of population decline and a serious concern for the conservation of some fish species including at least one salmonid.
2.Numerically, crayfish populations may be dominated by small individuals, but most studies have investigated egg predation by large crayfish. Evidence for crayfish gaining access to buried fish eggs is equivocal.
3.The ability of signal crayfish of a range of age groups (and hence, sizes) to prey on unburied and buried Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) eggs was investigated in laboratory experiments.
4.Only Age 2+ and older crayfish (24–43 mm carapace length (CL)) significantly reduced egg survival in unburied egg experiments, although some evidence of egg predation was observed with Age 1+ crayfish (16–22 mm CL). Age 0+ crayfish (8–14 mm CL) did not prey on salmon eggs. No evidence of substantial excavations or predation upon buried eggs by crayfish of any size class was observed. Binomial logistic regression of egg survival against crayfish CL indicated that mean egg recovery fell below control levels when CL exceeded 16.3 mm.
5.These results suggest that large signal crayfish are likely to pose the greatest threat to salmonid eggs, but that crayfish larger than 16.3 mm CL have the potential to prey on eggs.
6.Further research is needed before manual removal or harvesting of signal crayfish are used as conservation measures for Atlantic salmon spawning areas in which signal crayfish occur. Restoration of high-quality salmonid spawning habitat might, however, help to prevent signal crayfish predation of salmonid eggs in addition to broader benefits for salmonid conservation.