What about those invasive crayfish?

What if the creatures in the lake near you aren’t really supposed to be there? From Hakai Magazine, this is Amorina Kingdon’s article on invasive crayfish in Washington state: Pinch Me.

In Pine Lake, as in many waterways across the Pacific Northwest, native signal crayfish and invasive red swamp crayfish are duking it out, and the red swamps seem to be winning. (To be called “invasive” and not just non-native, a species has to cause ecological damage.) Kuehne and Chunlong are working with University of Washington freshwater ecologist Julian Olden, who has been holding the line at Pine Lake for six years. Along with the study I’m observing today, he’s distributed crayfish traps to the lake’s residents, asking them to release native signal crayfish and “dispose” of any red swamps they catch, trying to see if citizen science can beat back an invasive species and help the signals recover. That’s why Kuehne, Chunlong, and I are disappointed to see the red swamp.

But should we be? Around the world, humans have introduced different species of crayfish into each other’s territories, where they sometimes thrive, sometimes barely survive, and sometimes wipe out the native populations. A species such as the signal crayfish might be the underdog here, but a hostile invader in European waterways. When it comes to crayfish, choosing sides is never simple. Should humans try to correct the damage—or should we leave well enough alone? [continue]

2 thoughts on “What about those invasive crayfish?

  1. This raises some of the same issues as the mammoth story: how far should we intervene to rectify a natural process that we have disrupted? It was a beautifully written piece; I think my favourite sentence was this one: “A crayfish has the twitchy aggression of a meth head and a visage about as welcoming.”

    • Yes, that is a great sentence. 🙂

      I deal with a fair number of invasive plants here, and most of them are annoying in one way or another. At least the blackberry vines provide delicious fruit, which is more than I can say for blight of holly trees in the forest.

      Fortunately I don’t come across much in the way of invasive fishies and froggies and such.

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