Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Cannibalism as a potential factor affecting recruitment of the invasive Asian shore crab Hemigrapsus sanguineus.

Abstract

Cannibalism affects the population dynamics of many marine species, but its potential for influencing population sizes of non-native species is not well understood. A series of laboratory experiments was conducted in 2016 to examine the frequency of cannibalism in the Asian shore crab (Hemigrapsus sanguineus) and the factors influencing its rates of occurrence. Predators and prey varied in size from planktonic megalopae (the last larval stage) and the first benthic crab stage to small juveniles (3-6 mm carapace width, CW), large juveniles (7-10 mm CW), and adult crabs (12-15 mm CW). Individual crabs were paired with groups of smaller prey in glass culture dishes with sand and rocks as potential shelter for the prey, both with and without an alternative food source (commercial crab pellets). Adult and large juvenile crabs consumed megalopae, first-stage crabs and small juveniles, regardless of the presence of food. Megalopae were cannibalized the most heavily, and the size difference between predator and prey was an important factor determining cannibalism rates. Cannibalism of settling megalopae and newly settled juveniles by larger conspecifics could affect recruitment to benthic populations of this non-native crab species.