Genetic patterns across multiple introductions of the globally invasive crab genus Carcinus


John A. Darling, Fax: 513-569-7115; E-mail:


The European green crab Carcinus maenas is one of the world's most successful aquatic invaders, having established populations on every continent with temperate shores. Here we describe patterns of genetic diversity across both the native and introduced ranges of C. maenas and its sister species, C. aestuarii, including all known non-native populations. The global data set includes sequences from the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I gene, as well as multilocus genotype data from nine polymorphic nuclear microsatellite loci. Combined phylogeographic and population genetic analyses clarify the global colonization history of C. maenas, providing evidence of multiple invasions to Atlantic North America and South Africa, secondary invasions to the northeastern Pacific, Tasmania, and Argentina, and a strong likelihood of C. maenas × C. aestuarii hybrids in South Africa and Japan. Successful C. maenas invasions vary broadly in the degree to which they retain genetic diversity, although populations with the least variation typically derive from secondary invasions or from introductions that occurred more than 100 years ago.