Invasive Crustacea


, Volume 590, Issue 1, pp 115-121

First online:

The genetic variability of the red king crab, Paralithodes camtschatica (Tilesius, 1815) (Anomura, Lithodidae) introduced into the Barents Sea compared with samples from the Bering Sea and Kamchatka region using eleven microsatellite loci

  • Knut E. JørstadAffiliated withInstitute of Marine Research Email author 
  • , Christian SmithAffiliated withGene Conservation Laboratory, Alaska Department of Fish and Games
  • , Zac GrauvogelAffiliated withGene Conservation Laboratory, Alaska Department of Fish and Games
  • , Lisa SeebAffiliated withGene Conservation Laboratory, Alaska Department of Fish and Games

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The intentional introduction of red king crab, Paralithodes camtschatica (Tilesius, 1815) in the Barents Sea represent one of a few successful cases and one that now supports a commercial fishery. Introductions of alien species into new environments are often associated with genetic bottlenecks, which cause a reduction in the genetic variation, and this could be important for the spreading potential of the species in the Atlantic Ocean. Red king crab samples collected in the Varangerfjord located on the Barents Sea (northern Norway) were compared with reference crab samples collected from the Bering Sea and Kamchatka regions in the Pacific Ocean. All samples were screened for eleven microsatellite loci, based on the development of species-specific primers. The observed number of alleles per locus was similar, and no reduction in genetic variation, including gene diversity and allelic richness, was detected between the Varangerfjord sample and the reference sample from Okhotsk Sea near Kamchatka, indicating no genetic bottlenecking at least for the microsatellite loci investigated. The same results were found in comparison with the sample from Bering Sea. The level of genetic differentiation among the samples, measured as overall F ST across all loci, was relatively low (0.0238) with a range of 0.0035–0.1000 for the various loci investigated. The largest pairwise F ST values were found between the Bering Sea and Varangerfjord/Barents Sea samples, with a value of 0.0194 across all loci tested. The lowest value (0.0101) was found between the Varangerfjord and Kamchatka samples. Genetic differentiation based on exact tests on allele frequencies revealed highly significant differences between all pairwise comparisons. The high level of genetic variation found in the Varangerfjord/Barents Sea sample could be of significance with respect to further spreading of the species to other regions in the North Atlantic Ocean.


Paralithodes camtschatica Red king crab introduction Barents Sea Bering Sea Kamchatka region Genetic variability Microsatellites