Defence against predators by juvenile signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus, Dana).
thesisposted on 19.11.2015, 08:50 by Michael A. Blake
This study investigated the defensive responses of juvenile signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus, Dana) to two putative predators, perch (Perca fluviatilis, L.) and eel (Anguilla anguilla, L.), and attempted to determine the Importance of direct and indirect predatory effects on the distribution of newly independent Juvenile crayfish in a Swedish pond. Eels are thought to be more detrimental to crayfish populations than perch. Experiments using juvenile crayfish did not support this assertion. Visual and chemical stimuli elicited crayfish avoidance behaviour. This was most marked when both stimuli were presented together. Both predators elicited similar avoidance behaviour. Crayfish were less active by day, spending more time under shelter. Shelter provided by vegetation and substrata reduced crayfish mortality. Crayfish also avoided small non-predatory fish (Leucaspius delineates, Heckel). It is suggested that these fish indirectly increased crayfish mortality. Adult crayfish increased juvenile crayfish mortality but caused juveniles to be more active by day than at night. These responses illustrate the conflicting demands on crayfish defensive behaviour in multi-predator environments. Mechanical and visual stimuli elicited evasive behaviour. Crayfish evaded predatory strikes by perch and eels. The response to eels was delayed. Perch chased fleeing crayfish, and caught more crayfish than eels, which never chased prey. Initially, perch preyed on juvenile crayfish more rapidly than eels. Despite having distinct foraging behaviours, perch and eels produced similar crayfish mortalities. If eels are more detrimental than perch to crayfish populations, this may be a result of differences in size selective predation. The initial distribution of newly independent crayfish in a Swedish pond was influenced by the distribution of gravid female crayfish. Perch preyed on juvenile crayfish but were not a major factor determining crayfish distribution. Intraspecific competition and Invertebrate predation may have had a greater effect. Crayfish populations may be influenced by perch predation on yearling crayfish.