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The invasion of the Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis) in the United Kingdom and its comparison to continental Europe

Lookup NU author(s): Leif-Matthias Herborg, Professor Stephen Rushton, Professor Tony Clare, Emeritus Professor Matt Bentley



Owing to its catadromous lifestyle, the Chinese mitten crab, Eriocheir sinensis, allows comparison between a coastal and an inland biological invasion of the same species. Information about the distribution of this species in the United Kingdom has been collected from sightings made by governmental agencies, The Natural History Museum (London) collection, literature, and from the general public. This information indicated that the range of the species has expanded since the species' arrival in 1973. The spread has been most marked along the east coast northwards to the river Tyne, on the south coast westwards to the river Teign. The expansion range was quantified and compared using geographic information software, and then compared to recorded spread in Europe. Mitten crabs dispersed along the coast at an average rate of 78 km per year (1976-1999), with a recent sharp increase to 448 km per year (1997-1999). These values are comparable with the historic outbreak in continental Europe where the average rate of dispersion along the Baltic Sea coast (1928-1935) was 416 km per year. Comparable figures for the North Sea coast (1923-1954) were 75 km per year with a peak of 168 km per year in 1927-1937. The upstream spread along rivers in the United Kingdom was 16 km per year in 1973-1998 with a marked increase since 1995 to 49 km per year (1995-1998). These data, in combination with population data published for the river Thames, indicate that the population has been increasing since the early 1990s, causing further range expansion into previously uninvaded river systems. The comparison of the spreading behaviour of the ongoing invasion in the United Kingdom with the historic invasion in northern Europe suggests that E. sinensis in future has the potential to establish itself in all major UK estuaries. © Springer 2005.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Herborg LM, Rushton SP, Clare AS, Bentley MG

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Biological Invasions

Year: 2005

Volume: 7

Issue: 6

Pages: 959-968

Print publication date: 01/11/2005

ISSN (print): 1387-3547

ISSN (electronic): 1573-1464

Publisher: Springer Netherlands


DOI: 10.1007/s10530-004-2999-y


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