Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Arkansas
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Arkansas Project

Effect of the Introduced Crayfish, Orconectes neglectus, on Native Crayfish in the Spring River Drainage.

June 2005 - September 2007


Participating Agencies

  • Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

The crayfish Orconectes eupunctus is endemic to the Spring and Elevent Point rivers of Arkansas and Missouri, and appears to have been displaced from a portion of its range by the recently introduced crayfish Orconectes neglectus. Understanding the mechanisms behind this apparent displacement are important to the conservation and management of O. eupunctus. I investigated the role of life history and juvenile competition in the apparent displacement of O. eupunctus by O. neglectus using a combination of sampling, field experiments and laboratory experiments. Life history sampling from July 2005 through December 2006 revealed similar timing of reproductive events and growth rates between these species. Orconectes neglectus females carried significantly more eggs than O. eupunctus females, but a greater proportion of O. eupunctus females were ovigerous. Orconectes eupunctus juveniles survived and grew in stream cages in their former range, implicating biotic interactions rather than habitat degradation in the displacement. In laboratory experiments, O. neglectus juveniles were dominant over O. eupunctus juveniles in the presence of limited food, whereas size rather than species determined dominance in the presence of limited shelter. Orconectes neglectus juveniles did not inhibit growth or reduce survival of O. eupunctus juveniles in a field competition experiment using stream cages. These studies suggest that a mechanism other than competition at the juvenile life history stage is responsible for this crayfish species displacement, and alternate mechanisms, such as differential predation or reproductive interference, should be investigated. Results of my life history sampling should complement and inform these efforts.

Research Publications Publication Date
Larson, E.R. and D.D. Magoulick. 2011. Life history notes on Cambarus hubbsi (Hubbs Crayfish) from the South Fork Spring River, Arkansas. Southeastern Naturalist 10:121-132. March 2011
Larson, E.R., D.D. Magoulick, C. Turner and K.H. Laycock. 2009. Disturbance and species displacement: different tolerances to stream drying and dessication between a native and invasive crayfish. Freshwater Biology 54:1899-1908. August 2009
Larson, E.R. and D.D. Magoulick. 2008. Comparative life history of native (Orconectes eupunctus) and introduced (Orconectes neglectus) crayfishes in the Spring River drainage of Arkansas and Missouri. American Midland Naturalist 160:323-341. October 2008
Larson, E.R. and D.D. Magoulick. 2009. Does juvenile competition explain displacement of a native crayfish by an introduced crayfish? Biological Invasions 11:725-735. April 2009