A comparison of reproductive patterns and adult dispersal in sympatric introduced and native marine crabs: implications for species characteristics of invaders
The introduction and translocation of nonindigenous marine species is widespread and can pose severe threats to biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Predicting which species are potential invaders is of particular interest to ecologists. One approach is to identify characteristics that predispose a species to becoming a successful invader. Since its introduction in the 1980’s, the invasive Asian shore crab, Hemigrapsus sanguineus, has shown a remarkable ability to colonize rocky intertidal habitats along the east coast of the United States. In Long Island Sound H. sanguineus occurs sympatrically with the functionally equivalent, but non-invasive, native Atlantic mud crab, Panopeus herbstii. The presence of both species at the same site allowed us to make a detailed, simultaneous assessment of life history traits and adult dispersibility of co-occurring invading and native crab species. We investigated fecundity and maturation rates, length of breeding season and brood production for both species, and conducted field experiments using mark–recapture techniques to determine mobility patterns. Our results show that the nonindigenous Asian crab has a greater reproductive potential than the native mud crab as evidenced by a longer breeding season, multiple brood production and higher fecundity rates. Field experiments confirmed previous studies indicating H. sanguineus is a highly mobile crab, and further demonstrated that adult Asian crabs are more likely than mud crabs to disperse from their shelter/refuge sites. Recovery rates for native mud crabs were significantly higher than those for Asian crabs in three experimental trials, across sites and years. This work provides new information about life history characteristics of both species and supports the hypothesis that high reproductive potential combined with high adult dispersal ability may be important factors associated with the invasion/establishment success of the Asian shore crab. More study is needed, however, to determine the applicability of these findings to other highly successful marine invaders.
Brousseau, Diane J. and McSweeney, Laura, "A comparison of reproductive patterns and adult dispersal in sympatric introduced and native marine crabs: implications for species characteristics of invaders" (2016). Biology Faculty Publications. 57.
Brousseau, D. J., & McSweeney, L. (2016). A comparison of reproductive patterns and adult dispersal in sympatric introduced and native marine crabs: implications for species characteristics of invaders. Biological invasions, 18(5), 1275-1286. doi:10.1007/s10530-016-1065-x.