'Leaves and eats shoots': direct terrestrial feeding can supplement invasive red swamp crayfish in times of need.
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We used stable isotope analyses to characterise the feeding dynamics of a population of red swamp crayfish in Lake Naivasha, Kenya, after the crash of submerged macrophytes and associated macroinvertebrates, and during a natural draw-down of the lake water level. We expected a heavy reliance upon a diet of detrital matter to sustain the population as a consequence, and indeed, for the majority of the crayfish population caught from the lake, we saw a concomitant shift in isotopic values reflecting a dietary change. However, we also caught individual crayfish that had occupied the footprints of hippopotamus and effectively extended their range beyond the lake up to 40 m into the riparian zone. Isotopic analysis confirmed limited nocturnal observations that these individuals were consuming living terrestrial plants in the vicinity of the footprints. These are the first empirical data to demonstrate direct use of terrestrial resources by an aquatic crayfish species and further highlight the traits that make red swamp crayfish such opportunistic and successful invaders.
AuthorsGrey, J; Jackson, MC
- College Publications