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