Home and Away: Comparisons of Resource Utilization by a Marine Species in Native and Invaded Habitats

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The exotic Asian shore crab, Hemigrapsus sanguineus, was recently introduced to the northeastern coast of North America and during the 1990's breeding populations were established throughout southern New England. In 1997–1998, ecological studies of several co-occurring brachyuran crabs were conducted and in native (Tanabe Bay, Japan) and invaded (Long Island Sound, USA) habitats of H. sanguineus. Standardized comparisons of H. sanguineus were made between the 2 habitats using data on crab sizes, utilization of space, and food habits. Results revealed that (1) the resource use of H. sanguineus was quite different from that of other resident species in its invaded habitat, and (2) there were no substantial changes in resource utilization by H. sanguineus after it became established in the invaded habitat (relative to native Tanabe Bay). Differing patterns of resource use by H. sanguineus and other crabs in the invaded habitat, the lack of restriction in resource use by H. sanguineus following its introduction, and the climatological and physical similarities between native and invaded regions likely contributed to the successful invasion of H. sanguineus into rocky intertidal habitats in southern New England.

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