Marine Biology

, Volume 142, Issue 5, pp 867–876 | Cite as

Invasion dynamics of the European shore crab, Carcinus maenas, in Australia

  • R. ThresherEmail author
  • C. Proctor
  • G. Ruiz
  • R. Gurney
  • C. MacKinnon
  • W. Walton
  • L. Rodriguez
  • N. Bax


In Australia and most other invaded locations, rates of range expansion by the European shore crab, Carcinus maenas, are typically only a few kilometres per year, despite a planktonic duration upwards of 50 days and off-shore larval development. This relatively static distribution is punctuated by rare episodes of long-distance and large-scale spread, some of which appear to be related to unusual oceanographic conditions and some of which are likely to be human assisted. These observations suggest, first, that long planktonic duration and off-shore development in a marine invertebrate does not preclude very localised recruitment, and, second, that this recruitment norm may be punctuated by brief episodes of wide scale mixing of propagules. Punctuated dispersal has previously been suggested to account for large-scale biogeographic patterns of distribution and speciation, but may also have implications for the processes that stabilise structured spatial metapopulations.


Range Expansion Carapace Width Catch Rate Ovigerous Female Larval Dispersal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank all the many Tasmanian marine farmers who assisted with our trapping surveys and all the people who provided information about the occurrence of C. maenas in Australian waters. In particular, we thank L. Cleaver, I. Cleaver, H. Dyke, P. Dyke, A. Flintoff, C. Gardner, C. Lester, T. McManus, J. Peddell, E. Turner, D. Whayman, and P. Yaxley. G. Poore, S. Lewis, K. Culbert, J. Carlton and C. Gardner generously gave us access to their unpublished observations on C. maenas. This work also benefited substantially from discussions with E. Grosholz. We thank A. Butler and J. Young for comments on a draft of the manuscript. Finally, we also thank the many individuals who assisted in the field work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Thresher
    • 1
    Email author
  • C. Proctor
    • 1
  • G. Ruiz
    • 2
  • R. Gurney
    • 1
  • C. MacKinnon
    • 3
  • W. Walton
    • 2
    • 4
  • L. Rodriguez
    • 2
    • 5
  • N. Bax
    • 1
  1. 1.CSIRO Centre for Research on Introduced Marine PestsHobartAustralia
  2. 2.Smithsonian Environmental Research CenterEdgewaterUSA
  3. 3.Department of ZoologyUniversity of Tasmania, now Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries InstituteTaroonaAustralia
  4. 4.Wellfleet Shellfish DepartmentWellfleetUSA
  5. 5.Department of Environmental Science and PolicyDavisUSA

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