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Success and failure in a lotic crayfish invasion: the roles of hydrologic variability and habitat alteration

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Light, T.


FRESHWATER BIOLOGY, Volume 48, Issue 10, p.1886-1897 (2003)


1. This paper examines the distribution, habitat relationships, and potential for spread of non-native signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) in streams of the Truckee River catchment, California, U. S. A. Crayfish associations with natural features and with impoundments and flow alteration were examined in a survey of 33 streams. Abundance changes were followed over 5 years, which included some of the highest and lowest flows on record, in three streams, two unregulated and one regulated. Movement of marked crayfish was studied in one 0.5 km stream reach just upstream from a reservoir. 2. Signal crayfish were most abundant in low-gradient streams and were positively associated with proximity to reservoirs ( both upstream and downstream). Crayfish were more likely to be found in regulated than unregulated sites, and did not occur in sites upstream of barriers, such as culverts, that separated them from reservoirs or lakes. 3. Crayfish declined in abundance in years following particularly intense and prolonged wet-season spates, leading to a negative association between crayfish abundance and both peak discharge and duration of bankfull flows. 4. Crayfish moved distances of up to 277 m, and at rates of up to 120 m day(-1), suggesting significant dispersal ability. Larger crayfish moved greater distances and were more likely to move downstream. Female crayfish showed a pattern of upstream movement in early summer and downstream movement late in the summer, opposite the pattern found in two other studies. 5. These results suggest that natural or artificial gradient barriers and, in regulated systems, management of flow regimes to include bankfull or greater flows may help to control invasive crayfish in streams.