Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Trophic ecology of the Atlantic blue crab Callinectes sapidus as an invasive non-native species in the Aegean Sea.

Abstract

Invasive non-native crustaceans are a biodiversity and management concern in the Mediterranean Sea. The Atlantic blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) was first recorded in the Mediterranean Sea in 1949, but may have arrived as early as in the 1930's. Blue crabs in the Mediterranean Sea are of concern due to their presumed potential for negative consumptive and competitive interactions with native fauna. The aim of this study was to provide a first assessment of the trophic ecology of non-native blue crab in the Northern Aegean Sea using stable carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen isotope (δ15N) analysis. We found limited isotopic niche overlap between blue crabs and seven native species examined at Gökçeada Island in April, June, and August of 2017. In addition, the range of calculated trophic positions of blue crabs at Gökçeada Island (2.0 to 4.4), while broad, is in general agreement with prior studies in both native and non-native ranges. We also observe that trophic position declined and the relative importance of pelagic carbon sources to blue crabs increased from April to August. However, we also found that differing assumptions as to the number and type of food web baselines and trophic discrimination factors led to differing estimates of trophic position in blue crabs at Gökçeada Island by as much as one to two trophic levels. These methodical differences make it challenging to directly compare results within and between studies, and thus limit our ability to assess negative consumptive and competitive interactions of invasive blue crab with native coastal species in the Mediterranean Sea.