The impact of an invasive mud crab on brood success of nest-building fish in the Northern Baltic Sea

Topi K Lehtonen, Outi Vesakoski, Juho Yli-Rosti, Anniina Saarinen, Kai Lindström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Native fauna in species poor communities, such as those of the Baltic Sea, may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of species invasions. However, the interspecific interactions that result in the negative impacts on native species tend to be poorly understood. One contributing factor to this knowledge gap may be that the vulnerability of native species can vary between different life-history stages. For example, the parental care phase is often risky both for the developing offspring and care-giving parents. Accordingly, we investigated the interactions between invasive mud crabs, Rhithropanopeus harrissii, and native nest-building littoral fish, with a special focus on the sand goby, Pomatoschistus minutus. Firstly, our field survey demonstrated that while the recently established mud crab and native nest-building fish have different habitat and depth optima, their distributions also have a considerable overlap, with a high potential for interactions between them. Secondly, our laboratory experiments indicate that the crabs are likely to impact the fish negatively, especially by taking over occupied nests, as well as pre-occupying nesting resources that are of very limited supply in the studied population. We did not find evidence for successful predation on eggs guarded by male sand gobies naive to the mud crabs. Collectively, the results suggest that the invasive crabs have high potential to negatively impact native fish. Furthermore, the results support the scenario that the parental phase can be a particularly vulnerable life-history stage in face of novel selection pressures, such as species invasions.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)981–993
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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