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Is it a hindrance for an invasive aquatic species to spread across scattered habitat patches?
- Tréguier, Anne, Roussel, Jean‐Marc, Bélouard, Nadège, Paillisson, Jean‐Marc
- Aquatic conservation 2018 v.28 no.3 pp. 610-618
- Procambarus clarkii, anthropogenic activities, biodiversity, crayfish, ecological invasion, energy costs, freshwater, habitats, invasive species, landscapes, marshes, ponds, prediction, streams, water quality
- 1. Despite their importance for aquatic biodiversity, ponds are among the most vulnerable freshwater habitats. Owing to their isolation in terrestrial environments, ponds are expected to be relatively well protected from biological invasions, but this depends on many factors. 2. The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of a range of variables (water quality, habitat, and landscape attributes) on the colonization of discrete ponds by a widespread aquatic invader, the red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii, which can disperse overland. 3. Investigations were conducted in two networks of ponds, each located in close proximity to a large invaded marsh. The two marshes under study differed in the length of time since the crayfish were introduced. 4. The proportions of colonized ponds and crayfish abundances were moderate in both networks, but higher in the network that had been invaded first. In both networks the distance to the marsh was the main predictor of pond colonization, considering similar energy costs to cross aquatic and terrestrial habitats for the recently invaded network, but assuming that dispersal was 25 times costlier across the terrestrial matrix than via streams for the earlier invaded network. Pond characteristics had no influence on crayfish occurrence in either network. Furthermore, predictions of pond invasion were lower for the recently invaded network. 5. The importance of the distance to the marsh indicates that natural dispersal was the main process of pond colonization by crayfish. Findings also suggested that overland dispersal was rare and costly. By contrast, streams were probably significant in facilitating crayfish dispersal. Differences between the two networks might arise from an invasion process still in progress in the recently invaded network. 6. From a management viewpoint, local actions are encouraged to prevent the spread of crayfish via streams. In addition, broader‐scale actions to mitigate other human disturbances would improve the outlook for pond biodiversity.