Biological Invasions

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 67–77 | Cite as

Juvenile Chinese mitten crabs (Eriocheir sinensis) in the Thames estuary: distribution, movement and possible interactions with the native crab Carcinus maenas

  • Victoria Gilbey
  • Martin J. Attrill
  • Ross A. Coleman
Original Paper

Abstract

The Chinese mitten crab, Eriocheir sinensis is a successful invader. Whilst non-breeding adult E. sinensis have been associated with the destruction of riverbanks, little is known about the ecology of this species in its invaded areas. This is especially true of the juveniles which are a key migratory stage. Intertidal surveys along the Thames estuary indicated an increase in the population since the 1990s. Juvenile E. sinensis were abundant in the sampled upper tidal region of the Thames, refuging under boulders in the intertidal at low tide. Seasonal differences in sampled populations were observed, with a significantly lower abundance of crabs found during winter compared to summer. Mark-recaptures indicated movement in the intertidal occurring during high tide, with an influx of new crabs evident after a single tidal cycle. Endogenous rhythms were also apparent, with peaks in activity occurring corresponding with night-time high tide conditions. E. sinensis juveniles can successfully exclude similar sized native Carcinus maenas from shelters in the laboratory, regardless of which species originally inhabited the shelter. This may have implications for native estuarine Carcinus populations, which can rely on such intertidal shelters for refuges.

Keywords

Alien species Invasive species Endogenous rhythms Selective tidal transport Resource competition 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Toby Glynn, Rachel Mahoney, Georgina Gilbey and Abby Bartram for all their help in collecting field data. Also we would like to thank Richard Ticehurst for his assistance and Stephen Roast for the use of the flume. This paper was much improved by thoughtful comments by the editorial team and anonymous reviewers.

References

  1. Anger K (1991) Effects of temperature and salinity on the larval development of the Chinese Mitten Crab Eriocheir sinensis (Decapoda, Grapsidae). Mar Ecol Prog Ser 72:103–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Attrill MJ (1998) A rehabilitated estuarine ecosystem: the environment and ecology of the Thames estuary. Kluwer Academic Publishers, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  3. Attrill MJ, Thomas RM (1996a) Long-term distribution patterns of mobile estuarine invertebrates (Ctenophora, Cnidaria, Crustacea: Decapoda) in relation to hydrological parameters. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 145:308–308Google Scholar
  4. Attrill MJ, Thomas RM (1996b) The current status of the Chinese Mitten Crab, Eriocheir sinensis H. Milne Edwards, in the Thames estuary: an increasing population size? In: Stycznska-Jurewicz E (ed) Estuarine ecosystems and species, Marine Ecology Centre, Gydnia, pp 9–18Google Scholar
  5. Attrill MJ, Rundle SD, Thomas RM (1996) The influence of drought-induced low freshwater flow on an upper-estuarine macroinvertebrate community. Water Res 30:261–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Attrill MJ, Bilton DT, Rowden AA, Rundle SD, Thomas RM (1999a) The impact of encroachment and bankside development on the habitat complexity and supralittoral invertebrate communities of the Thames estuary foreshore. Aquat Conserv Mar Freshw Ecosyst 9:237–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Attrill MJ, Power M, Thomas RM (1999b) Modelling estuarine Crustacea population fluctuations in response to physico-chemical trends. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 178:89–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Blackmon DC, Eggleston DB (2001) Factors influencing planktonic, post-settlement dispersal of early juvenile blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus Rathbun). J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 257:183–203PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Branch GM (1984) Competition between marine organisms: ecological and evolutionary implications. Oceanogr Mar Biol Ann Rev 22:429–593Google Scholar
  10. Cabral HN, Costa MJ (1999) On the occurrence of the Chinese mitten crab, Eriocheir sinensis, in Portugal (Decapoda, Brachyura). Crustaceana 72:55–58Google Scholar
  11. Carlton JT (1987) Patterns of transoceanic marine biological invasions in the Pacific Ocean. Bull Mar Sci 41:452–465Google Scholar
  12. Clark PF (2006) Eriocheir sinensis H. Milne Edwards: 1853 or 1854–Grapsidae or Varunidae? Aquat Invasions 1:17–27Google Scholar
  13. Clark PF, Rainbow PS, Robbins RS, Smith B, Yeomans WE, Thomas M, Dobson G (1998) The alien Chinese mitten crab, Eriocheir sinensis (Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura), in the Thames catchment. J Mar Biol Assoc UK 78:1215–1221Google Scholar
  14. Cohen AN, Carlton JT (1997) Transoceanic transport mechanisms: introduction of the Chinese mitten crab, Eriocheir sinensis, to California. Pacific Sci 51:1–11Google Scholar
  15. Crothers JH (1968) The biology of the shore crab Carcinus maenas L. 2 The life of the adult. Field Stud 2:579–614Google Scholar
  16. Dutton CD, Conroy C (1998) Effects of burrowing Chinese Mitten Crabs (Eriocheir sinensis) on the Thames Tideway. Environment Agency, LondonGoogle Scholar
  17. Fernandez M, Iribarne OO, Armstrong DA (1994) Swimming behavior of Dungeness Crab, Cancer magister Dana, megalopae in still and moving Water. Estuaries 17:271–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Forward RB, Tankersley RA (2001) Selective tidal-stream transport of marine animals. Oceanogr Mar Biol Annu Rev 39:305–353Google Scholar
  19. Hanfling B, Carvalho GR, Brandl R (2002) mt-DNA sequences and possible invasion pathways of the Chinese mitten crab. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 238:307–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Herborg LM, Rushton SP, Clare AS, Bentley MG (2003) Spread of the Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis H. Milne Edwards) in continental Europe: analysis of a historical data set. Hydrobiologia 503:21–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Herborg LM, Rushton SP, Clare AS, Bentley MG (2005) The invasion of the Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis) in the United Kingdom and its comparison to continental Europe. Biol Invasions 7:959–968CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ingle RW (1986) The chinese mitten crab Eriocheir sinensis (H. Milne Edwards): a contentious immigrant. Lond Nat 45:101–105Google Scholar
  23. Jensen GC, McDonald PS, Armstrong DA (2002) East meets west: competitive interactions between green crab Carcinus maenas, and native and introduced shore crab Hemigrapsus spp. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 225:251–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jin G, Li Z, Xie P (2001a) The growth patterns of juvenile and precocious Chinese mitten crabs, Eriocheir sinensis (Decapoda, Grapsidae), stocked in freshwater lakes of China. Crustaceana 74:261–273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jin G, Xie P, Li ZJ (2001b) Effects of the stocking density and body size of the mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis) on aquatic plant biomass. J Freshw Ecol 16:341–345Google Scholar
  26. Lee JT, Widdows J, Jones MB, Coleman RA (2004) Settlement of megalopae and early juveniles of the velvet swimming crab Necora puber (Decapoda: Portunidae) in flow conditions. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 272:191–202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lee JT, Coleman RA, Jones MB (2005) Population dynamics and growth of juveniles of the velvet swimming crab Necora puber (Decapoda: Portunidae). Mar Biol 148:609–619CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lohrer AM, Whitlatch RB (2002) Interactions among aliens: apparent replacement of one exotic species by another. Ecology 83:719–732CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Luckenbach MW, Orth RJ (1992) Swimming velocities and behavior of blue crab (Callinectes sapidus Rathbun) megalopae in still and flowing water. Estuaries 15:186–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McDermott JJ (1998) The western Pacific brachyuran (Hemigrapsus sanguineus: Grapsidae), in its new habitat along the Atlantic coast of the United States: geographic distribution and ecology. ICES J Mar Sci 55:289–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. McDonald PS, Jensen GC, Armstrong DA (2001) The competitive and predatory impacts of the nonindigenous crab Carcinus maenas (L.) on early benthic phase Dungeness crab Cancer magister Dana. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 258:39–54PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. McGaw IJ, Naylor E (1992) Distribution and rhythmic locomotor patterns of estuarine and open shore populations of Carcinus maenas. J Mar Biol Assoc UK 72:599–609CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Olmi EJ (1994) Vertical migration of blue crab Callinectes sapidus megalopae: implications for transport in estuaries. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 113:39–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Panning A (1939) The Chinese mitten crab. Report Regents Smithson Instit 3508:361–375Google Scholar
  35. Robbins RS, Smith BD, Rainbow PS, Clark PF (1999) Seasonal changes (1995–1997) in the populations of the Chinese mitten crabs, Eriocheir sinensis (Decapoda, Brachyura, Grapsidae) in the Thames at Chelsea, London. In: Carel von Vaupel J, Klein J, Schram FR (eds) The biodiversity crisis and Crustacea: proceedings of the 4th international Crustacean congress. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp 343–350Google Scholar
  36. Robbins RS, Sakari M, Baluchi SN, Clark PF (2006) The occurrence of Eriocheir sinensis H. Milne Edwards, 1853 (Crustacea: Brachyura: Varunidae) from the Caspian Sea region, Iran. Aquat Invasions 1:32–34Google Scholar
  37. Rudnick D, Resh V (2005) Stable isotopes, mesocosms and gut content analysis demonstrate trophic differences in two invasive decapod Crustacea. Freshw Biol 50:1323–1336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Rudnick DA, Hieb K, Grimmer KF, Resh VH (2003) Patterns and processes of biological invasion: the Chinese mitten crab in San Francisco Bay. Basic Appl Ecol 4:249–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rudnick D, Veldhuizen T, Tullis R, Culver C, Hieb K, Tsukimura B (2005) A life history model for the San Francisco estuary population of the Chinese mitten crab, Eriocheir sinensis (Decapoda: Grapsoidea). Biol Invasions 7:333–350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sokal RR, Rohlf FJ (1995) Biometry. W.H. Freeman and Co., New York, pp 887Google Scholar
  41. Underwood AJ (1997) Experiments in ecology: their logical design and interpretation using analysis of variance. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 504Google Scholar
  42. Veldhuizen TC, Stanish S (1999) Overview of the history, distribution and impact of the Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis). California Department of Water Resources, SacramentoGoogle Scholar
  43. Warman CG, Naylor E (1995) Evidence for multiple, cue-specific circatidal clocks in the shore crab Carcinus maenas. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 189:93–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Williamson M (1996) Biological invasions. Chapman & Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  45. Wolfrath B (1993) Observations on the behavior of the European fiddler crab Uca tangeri. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 100:111–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victoria Gilbey
    • 1
  • Martin J. Attrill
    • 1
  • Ross A. Coleman
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Marine Biology and Ecology Research Centre, School of Biological SciencesUniversity of PlymouthPlymouthUK
  2. 2.Centre for Research on Ecological Impacts of Coastal Cities, Marine Ecology Laboratories (A11)The University of SydneySydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations