The effects of the invasive Signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) on native fish communities in the UK

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Eleri Pritchard

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Start Year

2017 (Cohort 4)

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PhD Project
PhD Title

The effects of the invasive Signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) on native fish communities in the UK

Research Theme

Biodiversity and Ecology

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The worldwide, human-induced spread of invasive alien species has had severe ecological, social and economic implications, with freshwater systems proving particularly vulnerable to invasion. Freshwater crayfish are exceptionally successful invaders, with 90% of species introduced to Europe becoming established in the wild. As ecosystem engineers, they present a significant threat to aquatic ecosystems. This project aims to better understand the spatio-temporal ecological impact of invasive crayfish on native biota throughout Europe. Previous studies have produced inconclusive and conflicting results on these impacts. I hypothesise that, since traditional recording techniques fail to provide quantitative data on crayfish population densities and structure, they present a key limitation of contemporary studies. Developing novel sampling techniques that are more efficient and accurate than current methods, this project aims to provide insights into the population structure of invasive
crayfish. These techniques will be used subsequently in a broader study to assess impact levels of invasive crayfish on fish and invertebrates in European rivers. Electrofishing and Surber sampling will be utilised to collect data on fish and invertebrates that can be compared to historic datasets or control sites with no crayfish to evaluate the level of impact invasive crayfish have on native biota

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