Comparison of trophic function between the globally invasive crayfishes Pacifastacus leniusculus and Procambarus clarkii

Eric R. Larson, Laura A. Twardochleb, Julian D. Olden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Impacts of invasive species may manifest most strongly if these organisms are highly distinct functionally from the native species they often replace. Yet, should we expect functional differences between native and invasive species of generalist organisms like freshwater crayfish? Some existing evidence has pointed to native and invasive crayfish species as ecologically equivalent. We contribute to this literature by comparing the trophic niches of the globally invasive crayfishes Pacifastacus leniusculus and Procambarus clarkii, by applying carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analyses to replicated allopatric (alone) and sympatric (together) lake populations in western Washington State, USA, where P. clarkii has been recently introduced and P. leniusculus is presumed native. Our study corrected for potential inherent differences in lake food webs as a consequence of lake abiotic or biotic characteristics using random effects in linear mixed effects models. We found that although overall trophic niche size or area of these species was not significantly different, P. leniusculus was significantly higher in trophic position than P. clarkii when also accounting for the effects of body size, sex, and lakes as random effects. This pattern of increased trophic position of P. leniusculus over P. clarkii was conserved over time in one sympatric lake for which we had data over multiple years. Cumulatively, our findings point to trophic differences between the globally cosmopolitan crayfishes P. leniusculus and P. clarkii, particularly when accounting for the ways that ecosystem context can affect food web structure of communities and the trophic resources available to these consumers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-286
Number of pages12
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


  • Ambloplites rupestris
  • Bellamya chinensis
  • Exotic species
  • Niche width
  • Non-native species
  • Red swamp crayfish
  • Signal crayfish
  • Trophic position
  • Urban lakes
  • Washington State

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology


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