Original paper

Alien vs. endemic crayfish: roles of species identity in ecosystem functioning

Usio, Nisikawa; Suzuki, Kana; Konishi, Motoharu; Nakano, Shigeru


In northern Japan, an alien crayfish species (signal crayfish; Pacifastacus leniusculus) is replacing Japan's only native crayfish species (Cambaroides japonicus) that is endemic to the country. We tested experimentally if these two crayfish species had similar roles in terms of ecosystem functioning in stream habitats. Experiments were performed to examine the impacts of alien and endemic crayfish on detritus-based food webs. During the experiment, neither crayfish species affected rates of breakdown of microbially conditioned oak leaves. In contrast, the amphipod Jessogammarus jesoensis, which dominated the non-crayfish invertebrate biomass, was significantly reduced in the presence of the two crayfish species. Thus, effects of crayfish on leaf breakdown were probably masked by the leaf processing activities of these large amphipods in the absence of crayfish. Overall, per-unit biomass impacts of Pacifastacus on leaf processing and invertebrate colonisation of leaves were comparable to those by Cambaroides.Laboratory experiments were performed to test whether rates of leaf processing of 10 riparian plant species, particulate organic matter (POM) production and nutrient excretion differed between crayfish species in the absence of other invertebrates. Although POM production rates did not differ between crayfish species, crayfish impacts on leaf processing differed depending on plant species reflecting differential leaf preference. Comparisons of individual nutrient excretion rates revealed that ammonia and phosphate excretion rates were higher in Cambaroides compared with Pacifastacus. Further, ammonia excretion rates were proportional to crayfish biomass in Cambaroides but not in Pacifastacus.Taken together, the two crayfish species had similar roles in stream food webs when biomass was similar. However, their roles as leaf processors and excretion rates of nutrients differed when there was a choice among different riparian species as sources of leaf litter. Species replacement between alien and endemic crayfish may therefore result in differential consequences for ecosystem processes.


exotic speciesfunctional redundancyecosystem processleaf processingnutrient cyclingsignal crayfishpacifastacus leniusculuscambaroides japonicus