Effects of natural flooding and trapping on the facilitation of invasive crayfish-native amphibian coexistence in a semi-arid perennial stream.
Aquatic amphibians are known to be vulnerable to a myriad of invasive predators. Invasive crayfish are thought to have eliminated native populations of amphibians in some streams in the semi-arid Santa Monica Mountains of southern California. Despite their toxic skin secretions that defend them from native predators, newts are vulnerable to crayfish attacks, and crayfish have been observed attacking adult newts, eating newt egg masses and larvae. For 15 years we have observed invasive crayfish and native California newts coexisting in one stream in the Santa Monica Mountains. During that period we monitored the densities of both crayfish and newt egg mass densities and compared these to annual rainfall totals. After three seasons of below average rainfall, we reduced crayfish numbers by manual trapping. Our long-term data suggest that crayfish do not fare well in years when rainfall is above the historic average. This invasive predator did not evolve with high velocity streams and observations suggest southern California storm events wash crayfish downstream, killing many of them. Newts exhibit increased reproduction in years when crayfish numbers are reduced. A comparison with a nearby stream that does not contain crayfish suggests that newt reproduction positively responds to increased rainfall, but that fluctuations are much greater in the stream that contains crayfish. We suggest that rainfall patterns help explain invasive crayfish/newt coexistence and that management for future coexistence may benefit from manual trapping.
|Outlet/Publisher:||Journal of Arid Environments 98:109-112|