Terrestrial emigration behaviour of two invasive crayfish species
Thomas JR., Masefield S., Hunt R., Wood MJ., Hart AG., Hallam J., Griffiths SW., Cable J.
To disperse between isolated waterbodies, freshwater organisms must often cross terrestrial barriers and many freshwater animals that are incapable of flight must rely on transport via flooding events, other animals or anthropogenic activity. Decapods such as crayfish, on the other hand, can disperse to nearby waterbodies by walking on land, a behaviour that has facilitated the spread of invasive species. Overland movement could play a key role in the management of non-native crayfish, though to what extent terrestrial emigration occurs in different species is poorly understood. Here, we directly compared the terrestrial emigration tendency of two non-native crayfish species in Great Britain; red swamp (Procambarus clarkii) and signal (Pacifastacus leniusculus) crayfish. We found that both species emigrated from the water and that there was no significant difference in terms of their terrestrial emigration tendency, suggesting that there is a risk both of these species will migrate overland and disperse to new habitats. This study shows that terrestrial emigration is an important behavioural trait to consider when preventing the escape of crayfish from aquaculture and further spread of invasive species.