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


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.


Alien species Invasive species Endogenous rhythms Selective tidal transport Resource competition 



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.


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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

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