Browsing by Author "Ahvenharju, Tero"

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  • Ahvenharju, Tero (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    The knowledge about the optimal rearing conditions, such as water temperature and quality, photoperiod and density, with the understanding of animal nutritional requirements forms the basis of economically stable aquaculture for freshwater crayfish. However, the shift from a natural environment to effective culture conditions induces several changes, not only at the population level, but also at the individual level. The social contacts between conspecifics increase with increasing animal density. The competition for limited resources (e.g. food, shelter, mates) is more severe with the presence of agonistic behaviour and may lead to unequal distribution of these. The objectives of this study were to: 1) study the distribution of a common food resource between communally reared signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) and to assign potential feeding hierarchy on the basis of individual food intake measurements, 2) explore the possibilities of size distribution manipulations to affect population dynamics and food intake to improve growth and survival in culture and 3) study the effect of food ration and spatial distribution on food intake and to explore the effect of temperature and food ration on growth and body composition of freshwater crayfish. The feeding ranks between animals were assigned with a new method for individual food intake measurement of communally reared crayfish. This technique has a high feasibility and a great potential to be applied in crayfish aquaculture studies. In this study, signal crayfish showed high size-related variability in food consumption both among individuals within a group (inter-individual) and within individual day-to-day variation (intra-individual). Increased competition for food led to an unequal distribution of this resource and this may be a reason for large growth differences between animals. The consumption was significantly higher when reared individually in comparison with communal housing. These results suggest that communally housed crayfish form a feeding hierarchy and that the animal size is the major factor controlling the position in this hierarchy. The optimisation of the social environment ( social conditions ) was evaluated in this study as a new approach to crayfish aquaculture. The results showed that the absence of conspecifics (individual rearing vs. communal housing) affects growth rate, food intake and the proportion of injured animals, whereas size variation between animals influences the number and duration of agonistic encounters. In addition, animal size had a strong influence on the fighting success of signal crayfish reared in a social milieu with a wide size variation of conspecifics. Larger individuals initiated and won most of the competitions, which suggests size-based social hierarchy of P. leniusculus. This is further supported by the fact that the length and weight gain of smaller animals increased after size grading, maybe because of a better access to the food resource due to diminished social pressure. However, the high dominance index was not based on size under conditions of limited size variation, e.g. those characteristic of restocked natural populations and aquaculture, indicating the important role of behaviour on social hierarchy.