Invasive Non-Native Crustacean Symbionts


Invasive non-native species (INNS) pose a risk as vectors of parasitic organisms (Invasive Parasites). Introducing invasive parasites can result in ecological disturbances, leading to biodiversity loss and native species illness/mortality, but occasionally can control INNS limiting their impact. Risks to human health and the economy are also associated with INNS and invasive parasites; however, we understand little about the diversity of symbiotic organisms co-invading alongside INNS. This lack of clarity is an important aspect of the ‘One Health’ prerogative, which aims to bridge the gap between human, wildlife, and ecosystem health.

To explore symbiont diversity associated with the invasive crustacean group (including: crab, lobster, crayfish, shrimp, amphipod, isopod, copepod, barnacle, other) (n = 323) derived from 1054 aquatic invertebrates classed as INNS across databases, we compile literature (year range 1800–2017) from the native and invasive range to provide a cumulative symbiont profile for each species. Our search indicated that 31.2% of INN crustaceans were known to hold at least one symbiont, whereby the remaining 68.8% had no documented symbionts. The symbiont list mostly consisted of helminths (27% of the known diversity) and protists (23% of the known diversity), followed by bacteria (12%) and microsporidians (12%). Carcinus maenas, the globally invasive and extremely well-studied green crab, harboured the greatest number of symbionts (n = 72). Additional screening is imperative to become more informed on invasive symbiont threats.

We reveal that few studies provide truly empirical data that connect biodiversity loss with invasive parasites and suggest that dedicated studies on available systems will help to provide vital case studies. Despite the lack of empirical data, co-invasive parasites of invasive invertebrates appear capable of lowering local biodiversity, especially by causing behavioural change and mortality in native species. Alternatively, several invasive parasites appear to protect ecosystems by controlling the impact and population size of their invasive host. We provide a protocol that could be followed to explore symbiont diversity in invasive groups as part of our case studies.

The consequences of limited parasite screening of INNS, in addition to the impacts invasive parasites impart on local ecologies, are explored throughout the review. We conclude in strong support of the ‘One Health’ prerogative and further identify a need to better explore disease in invasion systems, many of which are accountable for economic, human health and ecological diversity impacts.



Managing Editor

International journal of pure and applied zoology