Author(s): Catherine L Hein
Improved methods are needed for the prevention and control of invasive species. We investigated the potential to control a rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) population in an isolated lake in northern Wisconsin by trapping adult crayfish and restricting fishing, thereby increasing fish populations and predation on small crayfish. Over a 3 year period, traps and predatory fishes removed substantial portions of the rusty crayfish population. We used an age-structured population model to determine which removal method had the largest effect on crayfish population growth rates. Because more crayfish were vulnerable to and removed by fish predation than by trapping, fish predation caused a larger decline in the population growth rate. However, trapping removed crayfish with the highest reproductive value and caused the largest decline in population growth rate per individual crayfish removed. Consideration of density-dependent responses to removal is necessary to predict long-term effects on rusty crayfish population dynamics. Nonetheless, our results suggest that the combination of trapping and fish predation can control established rusty crayfish populations and deserves further consideration for management.