Patterns and traits associated with invasions by predatory marine crabs

Swart, Cheruscha ; Visser, Vernon ; Robinson, Tamara B. (2018-08-28)

CITATION: Swart, C., Visser, V. & Robinson, T. B. 2018. Patterns and traits associated with invasions by predatory marine crabs. NeoBiota, 39:79-102, doi:10.3897/neobiota.39.22002.

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Predatory crabs are considered amongst the most successful marine invasive groups. Nonetheless, most studies of these taxa have been descriptive in nature, biased towards specific species or regions and have seldom considered traits associated with invasiveness. To address this gap in knowledge, this study presents a global review of invasions by this group and applies biological trait analysis to investigate traits associated with invasion success. A total of 56 species belonging to 15 families were identified as having spread outside their native ranges. The family Portunidae supported the highest number of alien species (22). Most crabs had their origin in the North West Pacific IUCN bioregion while the Mediterranean Sea received the most species. No traits associated with successful establishment were identified, but this finding may reflect the paucity of basic biological knowledge held for many species. This lack of foundational knowledge was unexpected as crabs are large and conspicuous and likely to be well studied when compared to many other groups. Addressing this knowledge gap will be the first step towards enabling approaches like biological trait analysis that offer a means to investigate generalities in invasions.

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