The current status of Pacifastacus leniusculus (Dana, 1852) and their effect on aquatic macroinvertebrate communities in Hungarian watercourses

Ludányi, Mercédesz; Peeters, Edwin T.H.M.; Kiss, Béla; Gáspár, Ákos; Roessink, Ivo; Magura, Tibor; Müller, Zoltán


The freshwater crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus is among the most widespread invasive crayfish species in Europe. Pacifastacus leniusculus invaded Hungary around 1998 and here we investigated the recent expansion of this species and its impact on other aquatic macroinvertebrates. The colonization of watercourses throughout Europe by the signal crayfish resulted in negative impacts on the present aquatic communities. Our investigation (i.e. in Rába, Pinka, Gyöngyös-stream, Répce, Arany-stream and Strém systems) revealed that the distribution range of signal crayfish is still in expansion in the western part of Hungary and in all likelihood impacting the aquatic communities in these watercourses. Our results obviously demonstrated that signal crayfish densities were highest in habitats with gravel or coarse particulate organic matter, which seems to reflect a species-specific habitat preference. Our investigation proved that the presence of P. leniusculus had negative effects on a number of protected species such as Calopteryx virgo and Onychogomphus forcipatus next to a significant negative effect on the Odonata and Trichoptera species richness as well as on the abundances of Ephemeroptera, Odonata and Trichoptera. Our study in Hungary supports the notion of the significant negative impact of signal crayfish on native freshwater invertebrate communities throughout Europe. In order to assess whether these impacts are restricted to fast flowing waters only, an adequate monitoring plan providing more knowledge on this species with respect to biotic and abiotic preferences and aquatic macroinvertebrate composition is required.