Signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus)

Virtual Cabinet of Curiosities

8. Signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus), Dr Kate Mathers, Harry Sanders, Bethany Worley, Professors Paul Wood and Stephen Rice

These are signal crayfish, a non-native species that has invaded UK rivers. They out-compete other animals for resources, providing a good example of how unintended species invasions can wreak havoc in native ecosystems.

Our research has investigated the impact of these animals on freshwater plants and animals. Signal crayfish also dig burrows in river banks that accelerate river bank erosion and add large quantities of soil to river channels. This causes problems including an increased risk of flooding where deposited soil forces water out of the channel onto floodplains. Our investigations of the interconnections between these ecological and geomorphological processes is helping to better manage rivers. For example, we are investigating whether signal crayfish and associated flood risk can be controlled by eels, which are a voracious predator of crayfish.

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Lecture video

Watch Steve’s inaugural professorial lecture about his research