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Study: Climate change could be a boon for crayfish and other freshwater creatures

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British rivers could be set for an explosion of crayfish and other crustaceans as global warming pushes up inland water temperatures, new research predicts.

While similar sea-based species are set to suffer from climate change, their freshwater counterparts are likely to benefit from a warmer habitat.

Previous research involving land-based vertebrae has found that the diversity of a species tends to increase with warming and that this is a general trend across habitats.

The new study by the University of Bath, however, is the first to find that the reaction of a species to climate change is dependent on its habitat.

The phenomenon could mean a bonanza for numbers of freshwater anomura.

This is the first research to suggest that species response to climate change, whether warming or cooling, could be habitat dependentDr Katie Davis, University of Bath

The white-clawed crayfish is the UK’s only native crayfish species and is currently protected by law because of an 80 per cent decline in the last 10 years due to the presence of invasive, non-native creatures such as the American Signal crayfish.

Otherwise known as freshwater lobster, the crustacean is frequently served in soups, bisques, etoufflees, where often only the tail portion is eaten.

The Bath researchers say the maritime equivalent species, such as hermit crabs, king crabs and squat lobsters, will not see a similar benefit from global warming.

This is because changing sea levels will negatively affect the amount of shelf habitat available to the creatures, which are predominantly shallow shelf dwellers.

Lobster
Maritime crustaceans are likely to do less well from global warming CREDIT: TELEGRAPH

Dr Katie Davis, who led the study, which is published in the journalNature Communications, said: “While other research found that species diversity increased with global warming, our findings suggest that this is not a universal rule.

“We find that the freshwater group follow this pattern, but their marine relatives show the opposite.

“This is the first research to suggest that species response to climate change, whether warming or cooling, could be habitat dependent.”

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