Preemptive legislation inhibits the anthropogenic spread of an aquatic invasive species, the rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus)

Cassie Dresser, Bradley Swanson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The enactment of legal policies is often recommended to prevent anthropogenic introductions of invasive species. In this paper, we evaluated the effectiveness of proactive state legislative policies in deterring colonization by rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) and the expected spread into previously uninvaded states using network-based spatial analysis. We found that the presence of regulations was positively associated with the presence of rusty crayfish (p = 0. 027), but often regulations were put into effect subsequent to the invasion. Regulations that did not explicitly prohibit transport, applied to specific drainages, or prohibited only rusty crayfish were not effective. However, preemptive legislation was effective in reducing the likelihood of invasion, if regulations prohibited the transport of all live crayfish species between water bodies, as only 1 state which passed such legislation prior to invasion by rusty crayfish was subsequently colonized (S = 12, p = 0. 031). Five states are likely to be invaded by rusty crayfish via range expansion across interstate drainages, and dispersal rates suggest that all of these states could be colonized within 10 years. While it is unlikely that regulations will prevent dispersal-based invasion across state lines through shared drainages, preemptive legislation can significantly reduce anthropogenic spread of aquatic invasive species between drainages and effectively retard the expansion of rusty crayfish. Our results suggest that the most effective form of legislation is one that does not require individuals to identify species, thus we recommend states enact policies that explicitly prohibit the transport of all live crayfish between water bodies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1049-1056
JournalBiological Invasions
StatePublished - May 2013


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