Marine Biology

, Volume 151, Issue 6, pp 2231–2243 | Cite as

Biotic resistance to green crab, Carcinus maenas, in California bays

  • Gregory C. JensenEmail author
  • P. Sean McDonald
  • David A. Armstrong
Research Article


The distribution of the introduced European green crab, Carcinus maenas, was investigated in the central California embayments of Bodega Bay Harbor (BBH), Tomales Bay, and Bolinas Lagoon using baited traps and snorkel surveys. Adult green crabs were very spatially limited in all three embayments and occurred primarily in warm, shallow areas that lacked large native Cancer spp. crabs. The green crabs that were found in closest proximity to populations of Cancer spp. exhibited high levels of limb damage and loss; damage was strongly correlated with low ratios of intertidal area: edge, indicative of narrow areas of intertidal that are more easily accessed by large Cancer spp. moving up to forage during periods of tidal inundation. Up to 70% of the green crabs tethered in areas of BBH that are utilized by Cancer spp. experienced limb loss, while those tethered in the marsh, where there are no Cancer spp., were undamaged. The results suggest that the potential distribution of green crabs in the northeastern Pacific will be far less than has been predicted, and that their impacts may be largely attenuated through predation by and competition with native crab species.


Biotic Resistance Green Crab Reserve Channel Gray Harbor Large Crab 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We dedicate this paper to the memory of Eva Mulder, who assisted us with our field work and is greatly missed by all who knew her. We are grateful to the staff of the Bodega Marine Laboratory for providing space and logistical support throughout this study, and thank Mariah Cariss and Tom Wadsworth for field assistance. Statistical consultation was provided by Timothy Miller, Paul Sampson, Christopher Green and Pavel Krivitsky. This research was funded in part by a grant from Washington Sea Grant Program, University of Washington, pursuant to National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration Award no. NA76RG0119, project R/ES-24. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NOAA or any of its subagencies. Contribution number 2374, Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California at Davis. All work conducted in this study complied with the current laws of the United States of America.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregory C. Jensen
    • 1
    Email author
  • P. Sean McDonald
    • 1
  • David A. Armstrong
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Aquatic and Fishery SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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