Impacts of newly established non-indigenous green crab (Carcinus maenas) on native fauna in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland

Rossong, Melanie A. (2016) Impacts of newly established non-indigenous green crab (Carcinus maenas) on native fauna in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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The recent invasion of the European green crab (Carcinus maenas) populations in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) raises great concern about potential impacts on local fisheries and native biodiversity. Green crab are highly adaptable and in both native and invaded areas, green crab are well established predators that can outcompete other similarly sized decapods. The main objectives of this thesis were to: 1) identify the native species that green crab compete with for resources; 2) determine the depths and substrate types in which these interactions likely occur; 3) assess the indirect effects of green crab on native crustaceans and their changes in behavior; 4) assess the impacts of green crab on benthic community structure; 5) compare the NL population with other Atlantic Canadian populations in terms of competitive abilities; and 6) compare morphological features of the NL population with other Atlantic Canadian populations. I found that green crab overlap in space and diet with both rock crab (Cancer irroratus) and American lobster (Homarus americanus), potentially leading to a shift in habitat. Laboratory studies on naïve juvenile lobster also suggested shifts in behavior related to green crab, in that lobster decreased foraging activity and increased shelter use in the presence of green crab. Benthic community analyses showed fewer species in mud, sand, and eelgrass sites heavily populated by green crab compared to sites without green crab, although results depended on the taxa involved and I could not eliminate environmental differences through a short term caging study. Foraging ability of green crab varied in intraspecific competition experiments, with populations from NL and Prince Edward Island dominating longer-established populations from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Additional studies excluded claw size as a factor driving these results and behavioral differences likely reflected differences in invasion time and population genetics. Overall, green crab in Placentia Bay appear to be altering community structure of benthic invertebrates through predation and they also appear to indirectly impact native crustaceans through competition.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 11916
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references.
Keywords: invasive species, green crab, benthic biodiversity, foraging behaviour, American lobster
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Biology
Date: March 2016
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Atlantic Ocean--Placentia Bay; Canada--Atlantic Provinces
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Carcinus maenas--Behavior--Newfoundland and Labrador--Placentia Bay; Carcinus maenas--Habitat--Newfoundland and Labrador--Placentia Bay; Exotic marine organisms--Ecology--Newfoundland and Labrador--Placentia Bay; Carcinus maenas--Atlantic Provinces--Morphology

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