Marine Biology

, Volume 162, Issue 8, pp 1625–1635 | Cite as

Thermogeographic variation in body size of Carcinus maenas, the European green crab

  • Amanda L. KelleyEmail author
  • Catherine E. de Rivera
  • Edwin D. Grosholz
  • Gregory M. Ruiz
  • Sylvia Behrens Yamada
  • Graham Gillespie
Original Paper


Populations that span a large geographic range often experience a thermal gradient that can differentially affect the phenotypic response of individuals across the population. Variation in temperature has been shown to affect the final adult size of ectotherms, which is referred to as the temperature–size rule for ectotherms. Body size is a fundamentally important trait, as it can impact physiological performance, fecundity, longevity, and macroecological patterns. Hence, temperature may affect body size across a range, which can in turn influence maintenance of populations and ecological interactions. Here, we test whether biogeographic differences in size (carapace width) exist for a recent invasion of the non-native European green crab, Carcinus maenas, along the west coast of North America. We assembled trapping and temperature data collected from 10 sites along the western North American coast over a 5-year period. We also conducted a literature review of C. maenas size across their native range. Our results indicate that adult body size shows negative correlation with environmental temperature in both the native and invaded ranges, conforming to the temperature–size rule for ectotherms. Given the short time since colonization and lack of evident genetic structure across the invasive range, it may be that phenotypic plasticity in response to environmental temperature is driving this relationship. Forces that shape the phenotypic trajectory of species may play an important role in both invasion dynamics and subsequent ecological impacts.


Body Size Native Range Carapace Width Adult Body Size Invasive Range 
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 would like to thank in no particular order: Brian Steves for the Bio-ORACLE temperature data extraction, Scott Groth of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the staff and faculty of the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology for their hospitality while sampling in Coos Bay, and W. McClees for creating Fig. 1. For their help in collecting data, we also thank: B. Kordas, A. Larson, C. Coleman-Hulbert, S. Attoe, I. Clarke, B. Turner, B. Cheng, D. Kimbro, A. Bakus, A. Deck. We also thank R. Preisler and K. Wasson for generously providing the data from Elkhorn Slough, and P. Coelho for CW data from Portugal. Financial support was provided (in part) by UC Exotic Pest and Disease Program, Oceans and Fisheries, Canada, the Pacific Marine Fisheries Commission, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Grant to ALK, Grant Number 220005, NOAA (Grant #NA06OAR4170261, NA06OAR4170159, NA07OAR4170501, NA08OAR4170927), and Alaska Department of Fish and Game (#IHP-07-146).

Supplementary material

227_2015_2698_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (6 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 6 kb)
227_2015_2698_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (159 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 158 kb)
227_2015_2698_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (296 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (PDF 295 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amanda L. Kelley
    • 1
    Email author
  • Catherine E. de Rivera
    • 2
  • Edwin D. Grosholz
    • 3
  • Gregory M. Ruiz
    • 2
    • 4
  • Sylvia Behrens Yamada
    • 5
  • Graham Gillespie
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Ecology Evolution and Marine BiologyUniversity of California Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Science and ManagementPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Science and PolicyUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  4. 4.Smithsonian Environmental Research CenterEdgewaterUSA
  5. 5.Integrative BiologyOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  6. 6.Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Science BranchPacific Region Pacific Biological StationNanaimoCanada

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