Evidence of a compensatory response in invasive Rusty Crayfish (Faxonius rusticus) following intensive harvest removal from northern Lake Michigan fish spawning reefs

Jake T. Kvistad, Tracy L. Galarowicz, David F. Clapp, William L. Chadderton, Andrew J. Tucker, Gust Annis, Matthew Herbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The goal of most invasive species suppression programs is to achieve long-term sustained reductions in population abundance, yet removal programs can be stymied by density-dependent population responses. We tested a harvest removal strategy for invasive Rusty Crayfish (Faxonius rusticus) at two nearshore native fish spawning habitats in northern Lake Michigan. Changes in average Rusty Crayfish densities were evaluated with a before-after reference-impact study design. We removed 3182 Rusty Crayfish, primarily adults (> 20 mm carapace length), at two sites over two harvest seasons, expending 17,825 trap days in effort. Generalized linear modeling results suggested a statistically significant reduction in Rusty Crayfish densities was achieved at one reef, Little Traverse Bay (LTB Crib). Reduced densities were sustained over the egg maturation period for native fish and into the following year after removal ceased. By late summer/early fall, between consecutive suppression efforts in 2018 and 2019, we observed a threefold increase in pre-removal densities. Size-frequency histograms from diver quadrat surveys showed higher abundances of juvenile (< 20 mm carapace length) size classes the following spring and summer at LTB Crib compared to its paired reference site. Stock-recruit curves fit to count data, pooled across all sites, provided further evidence of density-dependence. With a proviso that we only conducted two seasons of consecutive suppression, this study highlights an important aspect of invasive species management and raises questions about the efficacy of adult-only crayfish removal strategies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBiological Invasions
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Keywords

  • BARI
  • Density dependence
  • Harvest removal
  • Rusty Crayfish

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