An invasive species of predatory shrimp has been found in the UK for the first time. The finding of this type of species has detrimental influences on the environment and ecosystem in which it lives and survives off of. The predatory Dikerogammarus villosus, the name for this shrimp, alters the ecology of habitats it invades and can cause extinctions.
According to the Environment Agency, the animal often will kill its prey and leave it uneaten. Insects such as damselflies and water boatmen could be at risk, with knock-on effects on the species which feed on them. The alien invader can be as small as 3mm but may grow up to 30mm long, making it much larger than native freshwater shrimp. It was found in the UK at a reservoir in Cambridgeshire in September, but is originally from the steppe region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. Dikerogammarus villosus has spread across most of Western Europe during the last 10 years, which researchers say happened via the Danube.
After the discovery by the anglers, an expert in Holland conclusively identified the species. Dr. Paul Leinster, chief executive of the Environment Agency, stated: “We are devastated that this shrimp has been found in Britain…We are currently establishing the degree of the problem, and whether the shrimp is only in Grafham Water or if it is in nearby lakes and the Great Ouse as well.”
Title: Invasive ‘killer’ shrimp found at two sites in Wales
Source: BBC News, 11/29/10
Author: The Environment Agency
Student Researcher: Kim Petersen, Sonoma State University
Faculty Evaluator: Brian Mulvey, Senior Aquatic Biologist