Title

Predatory impact of the green crab (Carcinus maenas Linnaeus) on post-settlement winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus Walbaum) as revealed by immunological dietary analysis

Document Type

Article

Publication Title

Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology

Publication Date

11-10-2005

Abstract

Predation on flatfish during the early juvenile stage is an important factor regulating year-class strength and recruitment. In this study, immunological dietary analysis was performed on green crabs (Carcinus maenas) collected from the Niantic River, Connecticut, in an effort to evaluate the predatory impact of this species on post-settlement winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus). Through the use of species-specific antiserum, winter flounder proteins were identified in 4.8% of the green crab stomachs analyzed (n = 313, size range = 14-74 mm carapace width, CW), revealing that crabs ≤ 29 mm CW are predators of post-settlement winter flounder in natural populations. The most significant factor underlying the predator-prey interaction was the relative size relationship between species, such that the incidence of winter flounder remains in the stomach contents of green crabs was positively correlated with predator-to-prey size ratio. Results from dietary analysis were incorporated into a deterministic model to estimate the average daily instantaneous mortality and cumulative mortality of winter flounder owing to green crab predation. Accordingly, green crabs may account for 0.4% to 7.7% (mean = 2.2%) of the daily mortality of winter flounder and consume 1.1% to 32.3% (mean = 10.2%) of the flounder year-class. Model simulations further indicate that variations in green crab abundance and size-structure account for the greatest variability in winter flounder mortality. Relative to other macro-crustacean predators, however, predation by green crabs has a minimal effect on winter flounder survival, due in large part to the low densities of these crabs in temperate estuaries. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Volume

324

Issue

2

First Page

112

Last Page

126

DOI

10.1016/j.jembe.2005.04.014

ISSN

00220981

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