Red Swamp Crayfish are Ultimate Survivors Say Scientists
Researchers from Queen Mary, University of London have found that the red swamp crayfish is the ultimate survivor. The crayfish, native to the southeastern United States, is one of the most invasive species on the planet. The researchers found that the crayfish is able to source food from the land as well as its usual food sources in the water.
Scientists analyzed the behavior of red swamp crayfish in Kenya's Lake Naivasha and found that when the water level of the lake was low, the crayfish found additional food sources on land. The researchers found a proportion of the crayfish population left the main lake and were surviving by burrowing in hippopotamus footprints which left small pools of water. After dark the crayfish clambered out from the footprints and grazed on the surrounding terrestrial plants.
Dr. Jonathan Grey from Queen Mary, University of London, lead author of the study published in PLoS ONE says, "These crayfish are incredible survivors; our research shows they are able to feed off terrestrial plants directly, as well as aquatic plants – the first study to demonstrate this. It has significant implications for anyone looking to introduce these species in other area."
The red swamp crayfish has been introduced to multiple locations throughout East Africa from the 1960s to enhance fisheries and to attempt to control populations of snails which carry a parasite causing river blindness in humans.
Dr. Grey says, "While they are useful to counteract other harmful species in ecosystems, they are also extremely damaging to fish populations and the balance of the food web. They eat plants, fish eggs, fly larvae, snails and leeches and since we have now shown that they are able to tap into extra resources from the land, they can sustain higher populations under adverse conditions such as low water and could cause more of a problem in a variety of environments than we initially thought."
Here is a video of some red swamp crayfish eating bacon. Take a look:
You can find out more about red swamp crayfish here and here.