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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 352 - Feature article
The Asian shore crab Hemigrapsus sanguineus. Watercolor painting: Elizabeth J. Perry

O'Connor NJ


Stimulation of molting in megalopae of the Asian shore crab Hemigrapsus sanguineus: physical and chemical cues


What are the characteristics of successful animal invaders? Studies often focus on juvenile and adult stages to explain the establishment of alien species. In benthic marine invertebrates, however, planktonic larvae often respond to specific habitat features, and benthic characteristics can determine the likelihood of their settlement and metamorphosis. In the Northwest Atlantic, late-stage larvae (megalopae) of the non-indigenous crab Hemigrapsus sanguineus molt to the first crab stage in response to chemical and physical cues, including odor from other crabs, rocks with and without biofilms, and nylon mesh netting. This broad responsiveness of settling larvae to habitat features helps to explain the successful colonization of H. sanguineus along the Atlantic coast of North America.


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