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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Martyn Lucas

Robinson, CA, Thom, TJ & Lucas, MC (2000). Ranging behaviour of a large freshwater invertebrate, the white-clawed crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes. Freshwater Biology 44(3): 509-521.
  • Publication type: Journal Article
  • ISSN/ISBN: 0046-5070
  • Keywords: movements; ranging behaviour; Austropotamobius pallipes; streams;radio-trackingOMNIVOROUS CRAYFISH; WATER CRAYFISH; MOVEMENTS; PATTERNS; FISH

Author(s) from Durham


1. Radio-telemetry and mark-recapture methods were used to study the
summer movements of adult and juvenile white-clawed crayfish,
Austropotamobius pallipes from a wild population in a small braided
stream, Dalton Beck, North Yorkshire, U.K. Radio-transmitters were
attached to the chelae of 18 large (> 35 mm carapace length) crayfish
and individuals were subsequently located to within 0.15 m.
Additionally a total of 888 crayfish were marked with carapace brands,
and 83 were recaptured.
2. Radio-tracked crayfish exhibited significantly greater local
activity at dusk (21.00-00.00) than at dawn (03.00-06.00), or during
morning (09.00-12.00) and afternoon (15.00-18.00) monitoring periods.
3. The greatest movements of radio-tracked crayfish occurred within 2
days of release. After this time, periods of residence were
interspersed by movements to new locations, interpreted as
establishment of ephemeral home areas. It is suggested that the initial
large movements were the result of a 'fright response' following
4. Movements varied widely between individuals, some moving more than
300 m in 10 days, while others showed little movement over an
equivalent time period. Mean (+/- SE) daily movements were 4.6 +/- 3.0
m for males and 1.5 +/- 1.0 m for females. Although crayfish often used
specific home sites for in excess of 7 days, displaced animals did not
return to home sites.
5. The total distances travelled and the mean distance travelled per
day by individual radio-tagged crayfish did not differ significantly
between upstream or downstream directions or between males and females.
This was also the case for marked crayfish used in mark-recapture
6. Positive correlations between distance moved per day and size
(carapace length) were found for downstream movements by male and
female crayfish, but not for upstream movements.
7. Some preliminary observations of the response of crayfish to flood
events suggested that these could be catastrophic with two out of five
tracked crayfish found dead after a high stream-discharge event.