The Atlantic blue crab Callinectes sapidus is recognized as an Invasive Alien Species in the Mediterranean Sea. However, its trophic role and feeding flexibility in invaded benthic food webs have been addressed only recently. Here, field samplings were conducted in winter and summer in five coastal systems of the Apulia region (SE Italy), three located on the Ionian Sea (Mar Piccolo, Torre Colimena, and Spunderati) and two on the Adriatic Sea (Acquatina and Alimini Grande). Captured blue crabs were weighed and had their Î´13C and Î´15N isotopic signatures measured; their trophic level (TL) was estimated using the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis as isotopic baseline. C. sapidus abundances varied greatly across systems and seasons, and in Adriatic systems the species was not collected in winter. Trophic levels showed significant spatial and temporal variations, although with no general pattern. In winter, the Mar Piccolo population showed the highest TL values; the lowest estimates were in Torre Colimena and Spunderati, where crabs showed Î´13C signatures significantly higher than mussels, suggesting the contribution of13C-enriched plant material in the diet. In summer, with the exception of the Mar Piccolo, Ionian populations increased their trophic level; both Adriatic populations were characterized by the lowest TL estimates. The analysis performed at the individual scale further indicated body weight-related changes in trophic level. For the Torre Colimena population, in particular, a hump-shaped pattern was observed in both seasons. The present study highlighted a considerable spatial and temporal trophic flexibility of C. sapidus at the population scale, while at the individual scale size-related shifts in trophic level were observed. The ability of the blue crab to vary its energy sources in relation with season, local environmental conditions, and ontogenetic stage is emphasized, suggesting that it may represent a key determinant of its invasion success.
|Numero di pagine||11|
|Rivista||Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2017|
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