Ecological plasticity and commercial impact of invasive marbled crayfish populations in Madagascar
2019
Authors: Andriantsoa R, Tönges S, Panteleit J, Theissinger K, Carneiro VC, Rasamy J, Lyko F
CellNetworks People: Lyko Frank
Journal: BMC Ecol. 2019 Feb 6;19(1):8. doi: 10.1186/s12898-019-0224-1

BACKGROUND:
The marbled crayfish (Procambarus virginalis) is a monoclonal, parthenogenetically reproducing freshwater crayfish species that has formed multiple stable populations worldwide. Madagascar hosts a particularly large and rapidly expanding colony of marbled crayfish in a unique environment characterized by a very high degree of ecological diversity.

RESULTS:
Here we provide a detailed characterization of five marbled crayfish populations in Madagascar and their habitats. Our data show that the animals can tolerate a wide range of ecological parameters, consistent with their invasive potential. While we detected marbled crayfish in sympatry with endemic crayfish species, we found no evidence for the transmission of the crayfish plague pathogen, a potentially devastating oomycete. Furthermore, our results also suggest that marbled crayfish are active predators of the freshwater snails that function as intermediate hosts for human schistosomiasis. Finally, we document fishing, farming and market sales of marbled crayfish in Madagascar.

CONCLUSIONS:
Our results provide a paradigm for the complex network of factors that promotes the invasive spread of marbled crayfish. The commercial value of the animals is likely to result in further anthropogenic distribution.