The findings support what is known about rusty crayfish – they are generalists that will eat almost anything, which helps to explain why they are so successful colonizing new habitats where they are introduced as invasive species.
“Unfortunately, rusty crayfish are well established in Ontario and cannot be eradicated,” said Jolanta Kowalski, a spokeswoman for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. “The introduction of the species occurred in the 1960s and they have become well established.”
This was the third year of UC’s crayfish project, which was conceived to give undergraduate students lab experience, associate professor Keen Wilson said.
“The point is to give students an introduction to a variety of biology specialties,” Wilson said.
“For example, I don’t go outside. I know that about myself, so I stick to lab work,” he said. “But you might not know that about yourself as a freshman. So you go out in the field and collect crayfish and say, ‘I’ll never do that again as long as I live.’ But you might love working in the lab or looking at the microbiology plates.
UC gives undergraduate students the rare opportunity to conduct research, Wilson said.
“When I went to grad school, it was my very first time in a research lab. And that’s not the best way to go in,” he said. “So this is a great opportunity to get your feet wet.”
Increasingly, biology students are interested in doing research projects as undergraduates, assistant professor Yoshi Odaka said.
“Many incoming students are interested in research,” Odaka said. “At open houses, students come up to ask about our undergraduate research programs. We offer great opportunities.”