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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Martyn Lucas

Bubb, DH, Thom, TJ & Lucas, MC (2004). Movement and dispersal of the invasive signal crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus in upland rivers. Freshwater Biology 49(3): 357-368.

Author(s) from Durham


1. The American signal crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus, an invasive species widely introduced throughout Europe, is a major threat to native European crayfish species and is causing increasing concern because of its wide impact on aquatic ecosystems.

2. Whilst various control and management methods have been proposed, very little is known about the factors influencing dispersal and movements of signal crayfish.

3. Sixty-four adult signal crayfish (carapace length 31.9–63.8 mm) were radiotagged in upland rivers in northern England, during four periods. Tracking was carried out at two sites, a low-density establishing population and a high-density established population. Tracking was carried out at both sites concurrently during midsummer (June to August 2002), during late summer (August to September 2001) at the low-density population site and during autumn to winter (October to February 2000/01) at the high-density population site.

4. Maximum movement occurred during midsummer. Temperature appeared to be a major factor influencing the timing and extent of movements between tracking periods.

5. The frequency distribution of the maximum distance moved upstream and downstream by radiotagged crayfish showed an inverse power relationship. The median maximal upstream and downstream distances moved were 13.5 m (range 0–283 m) and 15 m (range 0–417 m), respectively. There was a significant difference between the distributions of upstream and downstream ranges, with greater distances moved downstream.

6. All downstream movements made by crayfish appeared to be active movements and not the result of passive movement during periods of high discharge. There was no apparent influence of size, sex or density on the amount of movement recorded.

7. The study provides important information on the spatial and temporal behaviour of introduced crayfish in upland lotic systems. In contrast to lowland rivers, our results suggest that flow or gradient may influence the invasive potential of signal crayfish in an upstream direction in upland rivers.