Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Temperature dependency of intraguild predation between native and invasive crabs.

Abstract

Environmental factors such as temperature can affect the geographical distribution of species directly by exceeding physiological tolerances, or indirectly by altering physiological rates that dictate the sign and strength of species interactions. Although the direct effects of environmental conditions are relatively well studied, the effects of environmentally mediated species interactions have garnered less attention. In this study, we examined the temperature dependency of size-structured intraguild predation (IGP) between native blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus, the IG predator) and invasive green crabs (Carcinus maenas, the IG prey) to evaluate how the effect of temperature on competitive and predatory rates may influence the latitudinal distribution of these species. In outdoor mesocosm experiments, we quantified interactions between blue crabs, green crabs, and shared prey (mussels) at three temperatures reflective of those across their range, using two size classes of blue crab. At low temperatures, green crabs had a competitive advantage and IGP by blue crabs on green crabs was low. At high temperatures, size-matched blue and green crabs were competitively similar, large blue crabs had a competitive advantage, and IGP on green crabs was high. We then used parameter values generated from these experiments (temperature- and size-dependent attack rates and handling times) in a size-structured IGP model in which we varied IGP attack rate, maturation rate of the blue crab from the non-predatory to predatory size class, and resource carrying capacity at each of the three temperatures. In the model, green crabs were likely to competitively exclude blue crabs at low temperature, whereas blue crabs were likely to competitively and consumptively exclude green crabs at higher temperatures, particularly when resource productivities and rates of IGP were high. While many factors may play a role in delimiting species ranges, our results suggest that temperature-dependent interactions can influence local coexistence and are worth considering when developing mechanistic species distribution models and evaluating responses to environmental change.