Population dynamics of three brachyuran crab species (Decapoda) in Icelandic waters: impact of recent colonization of the Atlantic rock crab (Cancer irroratus).
The Atlantic rock crab (Cancer irroratus) was first found in Icelandic waters in 2006. Since then, the species has dispersed rapidly and is currently found clockwise from the southwest coast of Iceland to the east, corresponding to >70% of the coastline. Here, we present a monitoring study on this non-indigenous crab species in Iceland from 2007 to 2019. The study shows that the rock crab is now the most abundant brachyuran crab species on soft substrate bottoms in Southwest Iceland, both as adults and planktonic larvae, indicating that it is outcompeting its rival native species, the European green crab (Carcinus maenas) and the spider crab (Hyas araneus). The average size of the rock crab was similar over time (2007-2019), although it fluctuated between years in a pattern similar to that for the green crab, while significant reduction in size was observed for male spider crabs. The rock crab population is still in a growth phase in Icelandic waters, as seen in increasing distributional range, and can be found in densities comparable to the highest reported for the species in its native range in North America.