Management challenges are opportunities for fisheries ecosystem models in the Gulf of Mexico
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Management challenges are opportunities for fisheries ecosystem models in the Gulf of Mexico
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    Marine Policy, 101, 1-7.
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    Invasion success can be enhanced by evolution and behavioral plasticity, but the importance of these processes for most invasions is not well understood. Previous research suggests there is a genetic basis for differences in growth rate between native and invaded range rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus). We hypothesized that invaded range O. rusticus achieve faster growth by allocating more time to foraging and less to defense. We conducted a laboratory experiment to test the effects of range (native or invaded) and plasticity (as induced by exposure to predators) on crayfish behavior. We collected O. rusticus adults and eggs from both ranges, hatched eggs in the lab, and reared juveniles in common conditions either with or without predatory fish. We then quantified adult and juvenile crayfish activity in an experiment with and without predatory fish. In support of our hypothesis, invaded range adults displayed reduced antipredator behavior compared to native range adults. Further, invaded range juveniles were more active than native range juveniles without predators, but all juveniles were inactive with predators. In addition, invaded range juveniles had greater plasticity in behavior than native range juveniles. These results suggest that activity level in the absence of predators has diverged in the invaded range. Because active crayfish consume more prey, this change in behavior may be responsible for rapid growth in the invaded range of O. rusticus, a trait that contributes to the strong ecological impacts of this invasive crayfish.
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