Theoretical Ecology

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 305–318 | Cite as

Barnacles vs bullies: modelling biocontrol of the invasive European green crab using a castrating barnacle parasite

  • Andrew W. Bateman
  • Andreas Buttenschön
  • Kelley D. Erickson
  • Nathan G. Marculis


Invasive species raise concern around the globe, and much empirical and theoretical research effort has been devoted to their management. Integrodifference equations are theoretical tools that have been used to understand the spatiotemporal process of a species invasion, with the potential to yield insight into the possible biological control measures. We develop a system of integrodifference equations to explore the potential release of a castrating barnacle parasite Sacculina carcini to control spread and abundance of an invasive species, Carcinus maenas, the European green crab. We find that the parasite does not completely eradicate the green crab population, but has the potential to reduce its density. Our model suggests that the crab population is likely to outrun the spread of the parasite, causing two waves of invasion travelling at different speeds. By performing a sensitivity analysis, we investigate the effects of the demographic parameters on the speed of invasion. To conclude, we discuss the predicted outcomes for the European green crab, and other non-target hosts, of using the castrating barnacle as a biocontrol agent.


Invasive species Biological control Integrodifference equations SEI model Green crab Carcinus maenas Sacculina carcini 



The authors encountered the green crab biocontrol problem at the 2013 PIMS IGTC Mathematical Biology Summer School on The Mathematics Behind Biological Invasions. All authors thank the organizers, Mark Lewis and Thomas Hillen, for providing the opportunity to attend the program, and to Mark Lewis and Devin Goodsman for their guidance during model development. Thomas Hillen provided useful comments on a previous version of this manuscript. AWB was supported by an NSERC Discovery grant (to Mark Lewis) and by NSERC and Killam postdoctoral fellowships. AB was supported by an Alberta Innovates Graduate Scholarship and a PIMS Graduate Scholarship. NGM was supported by NSERC TRIA-Net.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Centre for Mathematical Biology, Department of Mathematical and Statistical SciencesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUniversity of MiamiCoral GablesUSA

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