The swimming crab Charybdis longicollis, native to the western Indian Ocean, was first recorded in the Mediterranean in 1954. It is now established from Egypt to Greece, and dominates the sandy-mud bottoms at 25–80 m in the southeastern Mediterranean. The success of C. longicollis is attributed to its high fecundity, agonistic behaviour and omnivorous diet, as well as the rise in seawater temperature. Since the early 1990s its populations in Israel and Turkey have been heavily parasitized by the alien rhizocephalan Heterosaccus dollfusi, which impacts its host’s behaviour, growth and fecundity, and causes mortality. Yet, 60 years after its first record in the Mediterranean, the population of C. longicollis seems durable, and has recently spread to the lower shelf and upper slope off Israel, where it is common at 80 m and is found down to 250 m, greatly increasing its spatial spread. The maximal percentage of parasitization was 87.2%, 88.8%, 75.5% and 81.8% at depths of 40, 60, 80, 100 m, respectively, and 50% at 120 and 250 m. Here, we hypothesize on the possible contribution of the depletion of its putative fish predators, mainly rays, to the prevalence of C. longicollis on the lower shelf.
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- Charybdis longicollis
- Enemy Release Hypothesis
- Heterosaccus dollfusi
- population biology
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science