Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

A comparison of the predatory impacts of an invasive and native crab species using a functional response approach.

Abstract

The European green crab (Carcinus maenas) is invasive on the West coast of North America, but the ecological consequences of this invasion remain poorly understood. Comparative functional response analysis has arisen as a method of elucidating ecological consequences of invasive species by comparing the impact of these species to native analogues. Through comparative functional response experiments of green crabs and native red rock crabs (Cancer productus) we found that green crab predation increased asymptotically (Type II functional response) when fed increasing densities of Pacific oysters (Magallana gigas), while red rock crab predation displayed a sigmoidal (Type III) response. At high oyster densities red rock crabs consume more Pacific oysters than green crabs do, due to their reduced handling time, though green crabs consume more Pacific oysters relative to their size than red rock crabs. However, compared to red rock crabs, green crabs consume more oysters at low prey densities, which implies that they have a larger, potentially destabilizing impact on low densities of Pacific oysters. As green crabs continue to spread across the West coast of North America, Pacific oysters will face increased predation pressure. Our results show the advantage of using functional response analysis to compare density dependent predation between an invasive species and a native species to predict the ecological consequences of invasions.