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Prey size selection in invasive (Hemigrapsus sanguineus and H. takanoi) compared with native (Carcinus maenas) marine crabs

  • Mark M. Bouwmeester (a1), Andreas M. Waser (a1), Jaap van der Meer (a1) and David W. Thieltges (a1)

Abstract

Introductions of predators can have strong effects on native ecosystems and knowledge of the prey size selection of invasive predators is pivotal to understand their impact on native prey and intraguild competitors. Here, we investigated the prey size selection of two invasive crabs (Hemigrapsus sanguineus and Hemigrapsus takanoi) recently invading European coasts and compared them with native shore crabs (Carcinus maenas) which are known to feed on similar prey species. In laboratory experiments, we offered different size classes of native blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) to different size classes of the crab species in an effort to identify the respective prey size preferences and potential overlap in prey size range of native and invasive crabs. In all three species, the preferred prey size increased with crab size reflecting general predator–prey size relationships. Prey size preference did not differ among the crab species, i.e. crabs showed similar mussel size preference in relation to carapace width. Given that additional morphological measurements showed that both of the invasive crab species have much larger claws relative to their body size compared with the native species, this finding was surprising and may relate to differential claw morphologies or structural strength. These results suggest that the invasive crabs exert predation pressure on the same size classes of native mussels as the native crabs, with potential effects on mussel population dynamics due to the high densities of the invaders. In addition, the overlap in prey size range is likely to result in resource competition between invasive and native crabs.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: David W. Thieltges, E-mail: David.Thieltges@nioz.nl

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Keywords

Prey size selection in invasive (Hemigrapsus sanguineus and H. takanoi) compared with native (Carcinus maenas) marine crabs

  • Mark M. Bouwmeester (a1), Andreas M. Waser (a1), Jaap van der Meer (a1) and David W. Thieltges (a1)

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