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Transoceanic Transport Mechanisms: Introduction of the Chinese Mitten Crab, Eriocheir sinensis, to California

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Title:Transoceanic Transport Mechanisms: Introduction of the Chinese Mitten Crab, Eriocheir sinensis, to California
Authors:Cohen, Andrew N.
Carlton, James T.
Date Issued:Jan 1997
Publisher:University of Hawaii Press
Citation:Cohen AN, Carlton JT. 1997. Transoceanic transport mechanisms: introduction of the Chinese mitten crab, Eriocheir sinensis, to California. Pac Sci 51(1): 1-11.
Abstract:Live importation of the Chinese mitten crab, (Eriocheir sinensis H.
Milne-Edwards, 1854) was banned by both California and the United States in the
late 1980s because of concerns about potential damage to levees, rice crops, and
natural ecosystems, and because it harbors a human parasite. Nevertheless, mitten
crabs were present in San Francisco Bay by 1992 and well established by 1994,
providing the most recent example in a late-twentieth-century pulse of human mediated
transoceanic and interoceanic crab dispersals. Of 10 mechanisms available
for the long-distance transport of crabs, evidence from the history of the mitten
crab's global spread, data on ship traffic, the sampling of ballast water fauna, and
recent patterns of introductions support the hypothesis of introduction via ballast
water. Alternatively, the pattern of governmental interception of mitten crabs, their
high market value, and continuing pressure to lift the import ban suggest that
introduction may have been achieved via an intentional, private-party inoculation
to establish a food resource. For either mechanism, the immediate source is more
likely Asia than Europe. Amid a global burgeoning of potential transport mechanisms
for estuarine and neritic organisms, knowledge of which mechanisms are in fact
acting is essential for directing efforts to moderate the pace of such introductions.
Appears in Collections: Pacific Science Volume 51, Number 1, 1997

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