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Impact of an introduced Crustacean on the trophic webs of Mediterranean Walter Geiger*, Paloma Alcorlo, Angel Baltana s & Carlos Montes

Summary: Impact of an introduced Crustacean on the trophic webs of Mediterranean
Walter Geiger*, Paloma Alcorlo, Angel Baltana´ s & Carlos Montes
Departamento de Ecologi´a, Universidad Auto´noma de Madrid, 28049 Madrid, Spain; *Author for
correspondence (e-mail: walter.geiger@uam.es; fax: +34-91-3978001)
Received 4 June 2003; accepted in revised form 30 March 2004
Key words: ecological impact, invasive species, Mediterranean wetlands, Procambarus clarkii, trophic
Based on a review and our own data, we present an overview of the ecological impacts on the trophic
web of Mediterranean wetlands by an introduced Decapod Crustacean, the red swamp crayfish (Pro-
cambarus clarkii). P. clarkii lacks efficient dispersal mechanisms but is very well adapted to the ecologi-
cal conditions of Mediterranean wetlands (fluctuating hydroperiods with regular intervals of drought).
As an opportunistic, omnivorous species, which adapts its ecology and life history characteristics, such
as timing and size at reproduction to changing environmental conditions, it became readily established
in most of the Mediterranean wetland environments. High reproductive output, short development time
and a flexible feeding strategy are responsible for its success as an invader. Like most crayfish, it occu-
pies a keystone position in the trophic web of the invaded system and interacts strongly with various
trophic levels. It efficiently grazes on macrophytes and is one of the main factors, besides the impact of
flamingos, cattle and introduced fish, of the change of many water bodies from a macrophyte domi-


Source: Alcorlo, Paloma - Departamento de Ecología, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology; Biology and Medicine