Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 389–404 | Cite as

Ecological niche differentiation between native and non-native shrimps in the northern Baltic Sea

  • Ivan Kuprijanov
  • Kristjan Herkül
  • Jonne Kotta


Invasions of non-native species are modifying global biodiversity but the ecological mechanisms underlying invasion processes are still not well understood. A degree of niche separation of non-native and sympatric native species can possibly explain the success of novel species in their new environment. In this study, we quantified experimentally and in situ the environmental niche space of caridean shrimps (native Crangon crangon and Palaemon adspersus, non-native Palaemon elegans) inhabiting the northern Baltic Sea. Field studies showed that the non-native P. elegans had wider geographical range compared to native species although the level of habitat specialization was similar in both Palaemon species. There were clear differences in shrimp habitat occupancy with P. elegans inhabiting lower salinity areas and more eutrophicated habitats compared to the native species. Consequently, the non-native shrimp has occupied large areas of the northern Baltic Sea that were previously devoid of the native shrimps. Experiments demonstrated that the non-native shrimp had higher affinity to vegetated substrates compared to native species. The study suggests that the abilities of the non-native shrimp to thrive in more stressful habitats (lower salinity, higher eutrophication), that are sub-optimal for native shrimps, plausibly explain the invasion success of P. elegans.


Ecological niche Caridean shrimps Non-native species Distribution Baltic Sea 



We would like to thank Vitaly Druzhinin for assisting in fieldwork and setting up the experiment; Jelena Kuprijanova and Elisa Ling are thanked for assisting in laboratory analyses. The project has received funding from BONUS Project BIO-C3, the joint Baltic Sea research and development programme (Art 185), funded jointly from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration and from the Estonian Research Council. This study was also supported by institutional research funding IUT02-20 of the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research. The targeted field sampling was funded by the Environmental Investment Centre of Estonia in the framework of the Project 2878 SFL nr 3-2_7/31-4/2012 “Identifying an invasive potential of alien shrimp in the Estonian coastal waters”.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Estonian Marine InstituteUniversity of TartuTallinnEstonia
  2. 2.Institute of Ecology and Earth SciencesUniversity of TartuTartuEstonia
  3. 3.School of Natural Sciences and HealthTallinn UniversityTallinnEstonia

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