Green crab annotated references

May 01, 2017

General Biology

  1. Audet, Miron & Moriyasu (2008) looked at green crab biological characteristics at the northern limit of the crab distribution in the Atlantic. They were able to identify mating time, male-female population ratios, size, mating behavior in the northern regions, which contrast to about a month later than what is usually observed in Maine.
  2. The population dynamics of green crabs were studied in an estuary in Portugal (Baeta et al 2005). Carapace color throughout the year, proportion of crabs in molt, sex-ratio, overall growth production, and presence of larvae were characterized. This study could be useful in thinking about population dynamics in Gulf of Maine estuaries.

  3. Berrill (1982) investigated the different stages of the green crab life cycle along the central coast of Maine. They found that crab matures at 2-3 years old, breeds 2-3 times, and has a generation time of 3 years. Compared to warmer water populations, these populations grow slower, mature later, and have a longer life span.
  4. Crothers (1968), though much older, gives a holistic description of the behavior and natural history of the green crab, and could be useful for filling in general background.

Reproduction, Development, & Molting

  1. deRivera et al (2006) determined the survival and development of green crab larvae in non-native populations, at different temperatures. They conclude that the rate of development and survival indicate that the green crab may continue northward into colder waters, regardless of interannual temperature fluctuations.
  2. Chang & Mykles (2011) discusses early endocrinological that showed the glands and hormones responsible. Additionally, describes recent experiments that have provided information on the cellular and moleuclar aspects of molting. Very involved, but could be a useful resource for deeper understanding of molting.
  3. Probably more molecular than necessary, but Chang & O’Connor (1979) could be a good resource if someone wanted a more in depth overview of the science of molting, as it existed in 1979.

  4. League-Pike & Shulman (2009)conducted a lab experiment to inestigate the effects of the lobster on mortality and behavior of green crabs. The presence of the American lobster had dramatic effects on green crab behavior, leading to increased hiding and climbing, and reduced standing in the open. These effects are likely an indicator of the scarcity of green crabs in subtidal communities, and suggest a likely decrease in green crab predation of small invertebrates that are common prey for decapods in the ecosystem.
  5. Lyons et al (2012) is a histological study of the reproductive cycle of male and female green crabs was performed on the Southwest coast of Ireland. They found a strong male bias, and a system was devised to describe and stage gamete development. Annual female ovarian development was characterized relative to season, as well as potential copulation seasons for males. Developmental stages of oogenesis and spermatogenesis were described, which ideally might benefit management.
  6. Poirier et al (2016) studied seven groups of crabs for molting characteristics, and it was found that a synchronized ‘molting window’ occurs during July for male crabs. In this month, molting rate increased over the first half of the month, following a 5˚C increase in water temperature. The presence of a halo on the episternites of the carapace indicated the crab would soon molt. This is a first step in assessing a soft-shell, green crab industry.

Dispersal, Impacts, Restoration & Mitigation

  1. Bryan & Beal (2015) worked to understand the predator-prey interactions between green crabs and soft-shell clams using deterrents. They found that green crabs consumed clams protected by predator deterrent netting, and could even do so without leaving signs of chipping or crushing the bivalves. However, some trials show that predator deterrent options worked compared to open controls, did not work between rigid and flexible netting, and did not work by raising netting above the sediment surface. More work needs to be done.
  2. Cosham, Beazley & McCarthy (2016) investigated the most relevant factors shaping local, fine-scale distribution of the green crab, to compare how adult and juvenile life stages change with depth, biotic interactions, vegetation, presence of shelter, and salinity. They conclude that using a single model to anticipate distribution is inadequate, and that more complex and localized methodologies are necessary.
  3. Duncombe (2014) describes a trap in place between 2010 and 2012 in British Columbia has shown a female bias, and that efforts for green crab removal have changed the population structure. Duncombe did not determine whether there were affects on population size, however.
  4. Though long and complex, Gehrels (2016) worked on identifying the current status of mitigation efforts for green crab populations, and found that current removal programs have little to no effect on the population growth rate. Therefore, current methods of harvesting alone are unlikely to result in a reduction in annual abundance.

  5. Grosholz (1996) compared the ecological characteristics of three spatially independent invasions of the green crab to determine similarities across invasions. They found that diet preference and ecological impact were similar across the three invasions. By studying the degree of similarity, a valuable measure of predictability can be employed for future invasions.
  6. Grosholz & Ruiz (2002) is a management plan put forth to evaluate the feasibility of current mitigation efforts in the United States, as well as an outline for plans to coordinate activities among scientists. Large and involved, but this management plan seems like a current and practical resource potentially of use.


Grosholz E, Ruiz G. 2002. Management plan for the European green crab. Green crab control committee :1–55.
Audet D, Miron G, Moriyasu M. 2008. Biological characteristics of a newly established green crab (Carcinus maenas) population in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada. Journal of Shellfish Research 27:427–441.
Crothers JH. 1968. The biology of the shore crab Carcinus maenas (L.) 2. The life of the adult crab. Field Studies 2:579–614.
deRivera CE, Hitchcock NG, Teck SJ, Steves BP, Hines AH, Ruiz GM. 2006. Larval development rate predicts range expansion of an introduced crab. Marine Biology 150:1275–1288.
Grosholz E. 1996. Predicting the impact of introduced marine species: Lessons from the multiple invasions of the European green crab Carcinus maenas. Biological Conservation 78:59–66.
Bryan E, Beal B. 2015. Interactions between the invasive Eruopean green crab, Carcinus maenas (L), and juveniles of the soft-shell clam, Mya arenaria L., in eastern Maine, USA. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 462:62–73.
Baeta A, Cabral HN, Neto JM, Marques JC, Pardal MÂ. 2005. Biology, population dynamics and secondary production of the green crab Carcinus maenas (L.) in a temperate estuary. Estuarine and Coastal Shelf Science 65:43–52.
Chang E, O’Connor J. 1979. Arthropod Molting Hormones. Methods of Radioimmunoassay 2nd ed:797–812.
Berrill M. 1982. The life cycle of the green crab Carcinus maenas at the northern end of its range. Journal of Crustacean Biology 2:31–39.
Chang E, Mykles D. 2011. Regulation of crustacean molting: A review and our persepectives. General and Comparative Endochrinology 172(3):323–330.
League-Pike P, Shulman M. 2009. Intraguild Predators: Behavioral Changes and Mortality of the Green Crab (Carcinus maenas) during Interactions with the American Lobster (Homarus americanus) and Jonah Crab (Cancer borealis). Journal of Crustacean Biology 29(3):350–355.
Lyons LJ, O’Riordan RM, Cross TF, Culloty SC. 2012. Reproductive biology of the shore crab Carcinus maenas (Decapoda, Portunidae): a macroscopic and histological view.. Invertebrate Reproduction and Development 56:144–156.
Poirier LA, Mohan J, Speare R, Davidson J, Quijón PA, St-Hilaire S. 2016. Moulting synchrony in green crabs (Carcinus maenas) from Prince Edward Island, Canada.. Marine Biology Research 12:1–9.
Cosham J, Beazley K, McCarthy C. 2016. Environmental factors influencing local distributions of European green crab (Carcinus maenas) for modeling and management applications. Environmental Reviews 24:244–252.
Duncombe L. 2014. Evaluating trapping as a method to control the European green crab, Carcinus maenas, population at Pipestem Inlet, British Columbia, Canada. Master’s thesis, University of Alberta
Gehrels HB. 2016. A study of green crab (carcinus maenas) interactions, cannibalism, and a first approach to model the effects of harvesting on its populations. Master’s thesis, University of Prince Edward Island

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