Habitat expansion of the Harris mud crab Rhithropanopeus harrisii (Gould, 1841) in the northern Baltic Sea: potential consequences for the eelgrass food web

Karine Gagnon, Christoffer Boström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Since at least 2009, the Harris mud crab Rhithropanopeus harrisii (Gould, 1841) has been spreading in the northern Baltic Sea, an area with no native crab species. Thus far, this species has invaded muddy and rocky coastal areas, especially shallow habitats dominated by reeds and the brown macroalga Fucus vesiculosus Linnaeus, 1753. Here, we document the first sighting and recruitment of mud crabs in an eelgrass Zostera marina Linnaeus, 1753 meadow - a critically important habitat for fish and invertebrate species. We found both adult and juvenile mud crabs in repeated sampling over the summer, suggesting continuous use of eelgrass as habitat for mud crabs and recruitment into the meadow. Given the simple food web structure of the Baltic Sea, this novel predator could lead to new energy pathways with unexpected consequences and potentially important effects on the functioning of the native eelgrass community.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)101–106
JournalBioInvasions Records
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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