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Title: The indirect impacts of ecosystem engineering by invasive crayfish
Author: Tambo, Guillermo Eduardo Willis-Jones
ISNI:       0000 0004 7654 0185
Awarding Body: Queen Mary University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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Bioturbation by invasive crayfish can significantly alter sediment properties and its transport in invaded water bodies; however, the indirect impacts of this on ecosystem functioning are poorly understood. In this thesis I present data from mesocosm and field manipulation experiments used to assess the effect of bioturbation by three widely distributed invasive crayfish species (Procambarus clarkii, Pacifastacus leniusculus and Astacus leptodactylus) on a variety of ecosystem properties across seasons. In the mesocosm experiments, P. clarkii caused significantly more bioturbation than the other species, although increased bioturbation by all species in the spring and/or summer was associated with: reduced dissolved oxygen concentrations in near-surface water, indicating a large increase in oxygen demand by the water column; increased methane oxidation potential within the water (MOPwat), indicating the re-suspension of methane oxidising bacteria (MOB) along with the sediment; and a shift in zooplankton community structure towards dominance by large cladoceran species. Stable isotope analysis of the zooplankton showed a strong relationship between δ13C and MOPwat, suggesting that bioturbation increases MOB consumption. Given the importance of zooplankton as a trophic link to the higher food web, crayfish bioturbation may increase the importance of methane derived (chemosynthetic) carbon in invaded ecosystems. Temperature was identified as the key driver of seasonal variations in crayfish bioturbation intensity through laboratory mesocosm experiments, enabling estimation of the full annual pattern of bioturbation intensity for each species. The optimal temperature for P. clarkii was much higher than for the other species meaning that its bioturbation impacts exhibited large seasonal fluctuations whilst P. leniusculus and A. leptodactylus maintained a lower but more consistent level. Field manipulation experiments of enclosed sections of Chalgrove Brook, Oxfordshire, found significant bioturbation activity by P. leniusculus in early autumn; however, the increase in turbidity was too small to detect other effects observed in the mesocosm experiments.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Natural Environment Research Council ; Environment Agency
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Bioturbation ; Invasive crayfish ; Ecosystems