Invasive crayfish in the Pacific Northwest
Invasive species directly threaten freshwater biodiversity, particularly in regions of high aquatic richness like the Pacific Northwest (PNW). Crayfish are among the most impactful of aquatic invasive species. Invasive crayfish are considered ecosystem engineers due to their ability to alter basic wetland properties, such as reducing vegetation and bank integrity and increasing turbidity. In areas where invasion is advanced, crayfish pose major economic and ecological problems. Crayfish have been widely introduced for aquaculture and can become established in a wide range of habitat conditions. They also may be spread by anglers who use them as bait. Several non-native crayfish are established in the PNW, but the extent of their invasion is not well known. At least two groups are known from scattered sites in the PNW, and both have proven problematic for native species in other parts of the world: Red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) and several members of the genus Orconectes. Both groups are native to areas of the eastern United States. Both are identified globally as invasives of high concern and appear on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's "10 Most Unwanted" and the U.S. Forest Service's "Primary Species of Concern" lists for stream systems in the PNW. Despite the presence of introduced crayfish in the PNW and their high potential for negative effects, the scope of their invasion and effects on aquatic systems are not well known. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), along with local groups and state agencies, is working to clarify crayfish distribution and to outline which basins may not yet be invaded. Other goals are to improve understanding of habitat associations of invasive crayfish and their potential effects on native crayfish.
|Invasive crayfish in the Pacific Northwest
|Christopher A. Pearl, Brome McCreary, Michael Adams
|USGS Numbered Series
|USGS Publications Warehouse
|Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center