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PeerJ. 2014 Jul 3;2:e472. doi: 10.7717/peerj.472. eCollection 2014.

Hemigrapsus sanguineus in Long Island salt marshes: experimental evaluation of the interactions between an invasive crab and resident ecosystem engineers.

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1
School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University , Stony Brook, NY , United States.

Abstract

The invasive Asian shore crab, Hemigrapsus sanguineus, has recently been observed occupying salt marshes, a novel environment for this crab species. As it invades this new habitat, it is likely to interact with a number of important salt marsh species. To understand the potential effects of H. sanguineus on this ecosystem, interactions between this invasive crab and important salt marsh ecosystem engineers were examined. Laboratory experiments demonstrated competition for burrows between H. sanguineus and the native fiddler crab, Uca pugilator. Results indicate that H. sanguineus is able to displace an established fiddler crab from its burrow. Feeding experiments revealed that the presence of H. sanguineus has a significantly negative impact on the number as well as the biomass of ribbed mussels (Geukensia demissa) consumed by the green crab, Carcinus maenas, although this only occurred at high predator densities. In addition, when both crabs foraged together, there was a significant shift in the size of mussels consumed. These interactions suggests that H. sanguineus may have long-term impacts and wide-ranging negative effects on the saltmarsh ecosystem.

KEYWORDS:

Carcinus maenas; Hemigrapsus sanguineus; Invasive species; Multiple predator experiments; Salt marsh; Uca pugilator

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