Predicting the range of Chinese mitten crabs in Europe
Ecological niche modeling provides a means for predicting the potential future distribution of a nonindigenous species based on environmental characteristics of the species' native range. We applied this method to the Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis), a catadromous crustacean with a long history of invasion in Europe. We used genetic algorithm for rule-set prediction to predict the potential European distribution of mitten crab based on its distribution in 42 locations in its native Asia. The climatic variables, air temperature, number of days, amount of precipitation, and wetness index, contributed significantly to predictions of native distribution limits. Although the genetic algorithm for rule-set prediction model was developed for the native range, the species' extensive distribution in Europe (n = 434) allowed independent validation of the predictions. Application of the model to Europe was successful, with 84% of occurrences in regions predicted to be suitable by > 80% of the models and < 4% of occurrences in areas predicted suitable by < 50% of the models (mainly along the northern range). At the watershed scale, areas with established mitten crab populations had significantly higher habitat matching than sites that were not invaded. The independent validation of the Asian-based model by the European distribution revealed that predictions were highly accurate. The model also identified large areas of Europe, particularly along the Mediterranean coast, as vulnerable to future invasion. These predictions can be used to develop strategies to control the spread of mitten crab by preventing introductions into vulnerable areas.
Herborg, L. M.; Rudnick, D. A.; Siliang, Y.; Lodge, D. M.; and MacIsaac, Hugh J., "Predicting the range of Chinese mitten crabs in Europe" (2007). Conservation Biology, 21, 5, 1316-1323.