Biological Invasions

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 659–669 | Cite as

Regional differences in foraging behaviour of invasive green crab (Carcinus maenas) populations in Atlantic Canada

  • Melanie A. Rossong
  • Pedro A. Quijón
  • Paul V. R. Snelgrove
  • Timothy J. Barrett
  • Cynthia H. McKenzie
  • Andrea Locke
Original Paper


Invasive green crab populations initially established in Canada within the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick in the 1950s and were present in all five Atlantic provinces by 2007. Genetic evidence suggests that the Atlantic Canadian populations originated from two separate introductions with differences in time of establishment among regions and possible population-level behavioural differences. In this study, we examine intraspecific foraging behaviour among crabs from different populations, and interspecific foraging behaviour between genetically similar crabs and juvenile lobsters. Both sets of foraging experiments involved competition for a limited food source over a 1-h period. In intraspecific match-ups, recent invaders from Newfoundland (NL) were significantly superior foragers than long-established invaders from Nova Scotia (NS) and New Brunswick (NB) populations; however, we found no differences between NL and Prince Edward Island (PE) invaders. Crabs from PE were better competitors than those from NS and NB, but these differences were not significant. Interspecific competition experiments indicated that the feeding behaviour of recent invaders (NL) and genetically similar, but long-established invaders (NS), differed in the presence of juvenile lobsters. Our study documents striking behavioural differences among populations of green crab from a small geographic region, which may reflect a combination of both genetic differences and time since establishment. These differences may result in varying impacts on newly invaded habitats.


Behaviour Genetic variation Competition Foraging Invasion time 



We thank Fisheries and Oceans Canada, M. Comeau, B. Comeau, R. Leblanc and G. Paulin for obtaining the juvenile lobsters and T. Wells, A. Nadeau, C. McCarthy, T. Pickering and L. Poirier for assistance with green crab collection and experiments. We also thank W. Petley and the personnel of the aquatic facility at the Atlantic Veterinarian College for their collaboration. Funding for this research was provided by NSERC Discovery Grants to PQ and PS, a contract from Fisheries and Oceans Canada as part of the Aquatic Invasive Species Research Program, NSERC PGS-D, NL RDC Ocean Industries Research Scholarship and a MUN graduate studies fellowship to MR. Comments from two anonymous reviewers improved the clarity of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melanie A. Rossong
    • 1
    • 2
  • Pedro A. Quijón
    • 2
  • Paul V. R. Snelgrove
    • 1
  • Timothy J. Barrett
    • 3
  • Cynthia H. McKenzie
    • 4
  • Andrea Locke
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Biology and Ocean Sciences CentreMemorial University of NewfoundlandSt. John’sCanada
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of Prince Edward IslandCharlottetownCanada
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUniversity of New BrunswickSaint JohnCanada
  4. 4.Northwest Atlantic Fisheries CentreFisheries and Oceans CanadaSt. John’sCanada
  5. 5.Gulf Fisheries CentreFisheries and Oceans CanadaMonctonCanada

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