Effects of invasive cordgrass on crab distributions and diets in a Chinese salt marsh

H Qin, T Chu, W Xu, G Lei, Z Chen, W Quan, J Chen, J Wu
2010 Marine Ecology Progress Series  
The effects of invasive cordgrass Spartina alterniflora on burrowing crab communities in the salt marshes of the Yangtze River Estuary, China, were studied. Crab abundance, distribution and diets were compared in native Phragmites australis and invasive S. alterniflora stands. Spartinainvaded stands had 42% higher crab density than did native P. australis stands, largely because 2 dominant grapsoid crabs, Helice tientsinensis and Chiromantes dehaani, thrived in S. alterniflora stands. Sediment
more » ... rain size, water content and vegetation stem height were the main factors correlated with crab distributions. Crab diet analyses revealed that crab stomach fullness was similar in stands of different plant species, indicating that in Spartina-invaded stands crabs can find compatible food quantity as in native plant stands. Both H. tientsinensis and C. dehaani from S. alterniflora stands had significantly higher δ 13 C values than those from P. australis stands, suggesting that the crabs consumed S. alterniflora in the invasive marshes. This non-selective feeding may be driving the success of H. tientsinensis and C. dehaani in invasive Spartina stands.
doi:10.3354/meps08771 fatcat:rs4pk3infjab3ic2dycgc34mle