El cangrejo invasor
Callinectes sapidus

The invasive blue crab Callinectes sapidus

Proyecto InvBlue


  • PID2019-105978RA-I00


  • Programa Estatal de I+D+I orientado a los retos de la sociedad – Jóvenes Investigadores JIN


  • Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades; Agencia Estatal de Investigación; Fondos FEDER

La presencia del cangrejo azul Callinectes sapidus (nativo de la costa oeste americana del Océano Atlántico y el Golfo de México) preocupa enormemente a las comunidades locales de pescadores y empresas de acuicultura en el golfo de Cádiz (GdC). Esta especie, con gran habilidad para atacar a otras, podría competir y alimentarse del cangrejo nativo Carcinus maenas, ya que estudios previos en el Este de Norteamérica han concluido que la depredación por C. sapidus limita la abundancia y el rango geográfico del cangrejo verde europeo (allí especie exótica). Además del cangrejo azul, otras dos especies no-nativas en el GdC con un notable crecimiento de sus poblaciones son la corvinata real Cynoscion regalis y el camarón pistola Alpheus sp. 

Dado que urge conocer los efectos de estas tres especies, nuestro objetivo es evaluar el estado actual de las poblaciones de estas tres especies exóticas invasoras en el GdC, y sus efectos potenciales en la fauna nativa y en el ecosistema. Para la evaluación de dichos efectos, se esclarecerán las interacciones tróficas y la respuesta funcional de las especies bajo diferentes condiciones ambientales. Ello permitirá ayudar a la gestión de esta especie mediante una serie de medidas específicas, que se unirán a la de la pesca de la especie para facilitar su control y mantenerla en unos mínimos tolerables por el ecosistema. Todo ello a modo de medidas paliativas, ya que la erradicación es prácticamente imposible.

New records of the Atlantic blue crab Callinectes sapidus (native from the western Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico) have been detected in the gulf of Cadiz (GoC) with serious concern within local communities of fishermen and aquaculture companies. With it’s remarkable ability to attack other aquatic species, it may be able to compete with the green crab Carcinus maenas, as well as predate on it in the GoC. This suggested by previous studies in eastern North America (colonized by the European green crab), which showed that in those regions where C. sapidus was most frequent C. maenas was not found. Other two exotic species with a recent increase in populations are the snapping shrimp Alpheus sp. and the weakfish Cynoscion regalis.

Based on the global concern of invasions, this scientific proposal aims at determining the status and distribution of the blue crab, weakfish and the snapping shrimp populations in the GoC, in order to discern their feeding habits, the functional factors that limit their distributions and the key biological traits associated with their potential invasiveness. Besides, it also aimsat estimating the damage that they may cause on native communities and on the local crustacean and mollusks fisheries. These goals could help to identify the most effective management practices to help to control them, contain their spread, and try to maintain the region´s biodiversity. All of these are mitigating measures, considering that the eradication of aquatic invasive species is nearly impossible.

Somos un equipo de 16 personas apasionadas por lo que hacemos.

Enrique González-Ortegón

Investigador Principal

I graduated in Biology in 2000 and undertook my PhD in estuarine ecology at ICMAN between 2002 and 2008. I was awarded with two post-doctoral research (Spanish Ministry of Education and Marie Curie) in the School of Ocean Sciences in UK (Wales) and three more in Spain at IFAPA-Toruño, IEO-Cadiz and ICMAN-CSIC where finally I got a position as distinguished researcher in 2017. I am a coastal ecologist with a research interest in the ecology of non-native species, trophic ecology, larval ecology of decapod crustaceans, the mechanisms by which marine invertebrates respond to environmental (natural and anthropogenic) variability, the effects of the environmental variables driven by climate change on aquatic communities, and how the distribution organisms is determined by the environmental variability and biological interactions. My work is field-oriented combined with experimental and ecophysiological studies.

Jose A. Cuesta


I am a tenured researcher at the Instituto de Ciencias Marinas de Andalucia (ICMAN-CSIC). My primary interests encompass biology, ecology, molecular phylogeny, DNA barcoding, introduced species. taxonomy, and larval development of decapod crustaceans (mainly crabs). In some past projects, I have focused on larval morphology of Thoracotremata, especially in Grapsoidea and Pinnotheroidea, in combination with molecular phylogeny. The main objective of a recently finished project (AFROBIV) was studying the effects of the parasitic pea crab Afropinnotheres monodi on commercial bivalve species of the Iberian Peninsula, and in a previous one (MEGALOPADN) was to use DNA barcodes to identify megalopae from Iberian plankton samples and describe them. Other studies, carried out along the last 30 years, have focused on introduced exotic decapods in the Gulf of Cádiz.

Irene Laiz


I am a full-time lecturer at the University of Cadiz where, among other responsibilities, I am the Academic Coordinator of the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree in Water and Coastal Management since 2017.
My research is multidisciplinary, focusing on Physical Oceanography and its relation to biogeochemical processes, through the use of in situ and remote sensing data, and numerical models. One of my research interests is to study the effect that different environmental drivers, including climate change, have on the transport and distribution of tracers of natural and anthropogenic origin in the water column, such as eggs and early larvae of small pelagic fish, trace metals, etc.

Jose Enrique García Raso


My research is focused on the study of decapod crustaceans, group in which I have worked for more than 40 years, especially from a taxonomic - systematic - biogeographic point of view but, also, in aspects of growth and reproduction of species, the study of structure and dynamic of assemblages, introduced species and on the characterization and study of marine protected areas.

Francisco Baldó


My main scientific motivation is to understand the biodiversity of marine ecosystems and contribute to the sustainable management of fisheries resources. During many years, I have been involved in a long-term ecological research in the Guadalquivir estuary, which has set up a time series of monthly sampling of the aquatic communities of the estuary. In the course of this research, I have also worked in the development of theoretical individual-based models based on the high resolution individual-based food web dataset of the Guadalquivir estuary. I have extensive experience in fieldwork including over 50 oceanographic cruises. The combination between the empirical and theoretical facets is, perhaps, the most outstanding characteristic of my career.

Mari Paz Jiménez


I'm a biologist and have a PhD in marine science. Since 1992, I’ve worked at the Spanish Institute of Oceanography. where I've developed my career . I started studying the fisheries of the trawling fleet of the Gulf of Cadiz, including the biology and grow of the target species. In recent years, I‘ve changed my research field to ichtyoplankton and the daily egg production method for stock assessment. Since 2018, I am the Director of the Oceanographic Center of Cadiz, in the IEO.

Cesar Vilas


My research career has focused on the ecology of coastal ecosystems, their conservation and their relationship with fisheries resources. I´m especially interested on developing and maintaining Long Term Research Ecology (LTER) projects in order to unravel coastal ecosystems functioning, their trophic webs and marine connectivity between estuarine and wetlands nursery areas and the marine realm, for an effective assessment towards an effective Ecosystem Based Management. Currently Titular Researcher of Fisheries Department at The Andalusian Institute of Agricultural and Fisheries Research and Training (IFAPA) El Toruño in Spain, I´m PI of Guadalquivir LTER project, a monthly program studying aquatic community ecology and environmental forcing of the Guadalquivir Estuary since 1997. Our multidisciplinar approach includes both a diverse array of field and analytical techniques as collaborations with different specialists webbing a rich network of marine scientists.

Carlos Fernandez Delgado


Professor Carlos Fernández Delgado has a doctorate in biology (1994) and is a university professor at the University of Córdoba with 5 positive research six-year terms. He is director of the Aphanius Research Group belonging to the Andalusian Research Plan. Professor Fernández-Delgado is dedicated to the study of the biology and ecology of native and alien epicontinental fish (rivers and estuaries). He is essentially interested in the study of the problems of conservation of native species and in the development of plans for the eradication of invasive species.

Carlos Sánchez Nieto


I am a biologist; I obtained my graduate degree in Biology from the University of Autónoma, Madrid, Spain. Currently I am working as technician at the Macroinvertebrates Laboratory of the EEBAS, involved with Jose A. Cuesta´s projects in all aspects related with DNA extraction, PCR, purification and sequencing, as well as other molecular techniques.

Gala González-González


Since early childhood, I had a deep interest in, and commitment to, environmental issues which led me to graduate in Marine Science in 2014. During my Master´s degree on Biotechnology I worked in Málaga University studying ecophysiology of algae on the context of conservation and climate change. For 3 years I worked as research specialist at KAUST (Saudi Arabia) in the group of biological oceanography, where I specialized in marine chemical ecology, working mainly with pigments, toxins and fatty acids from microalgae to evaluate the impact of global change. Currently I am working at ICMAN-CSIC as part of the project EcoInvadiz, where my research focuses on the ecology of non-native species and assessment of their populations in the Gulf of Cadiz to understand their impact on the ecosystem.

Victor Acosta Morillas


I graduated in Biology and I am senior technician in aquaculture production. I began to work as research assistant at the IFAPA (Los Toruños) and ICMAN (CSIC) centers in the Department of Ecology in subjects of marine invertebrate cultures and taxonomic identification of the estuarine fauna of the Guadalquivir river. I did my graduate thesis studying the spatial distribution and temporal changes of the estuarine decapod crustacean community of the Guadalquivir estuary. Currently, I am combining master's studies in biotechnology from the University of Cádiz, a postgraduate scholarship "JAE Intro" at ICMAN working in the identification of all the fish and crustacean species of the Guadalquivir estuary, and as a scientific illustrator. I represent the subject in my drawings, with the shapes, scale, color, texture, to get an image and express the biodiversity that surrounds us and the conservation challenges we need to tackle.

Miky Sánchez-G Hernández


I started my career in Marine Sciences as an Auxiliary Technician in 2011, at the Oceanographic Center of Murcia (IEO), in the Department of Marine Pollution and Biological Effects. Subsequently, I completed my training as a Senior Technician in the Department of Ecology and Biology of Marine Angiosperms (COM-IEO), conducting underwater monitoring and sampling of phanerogam meadows, epiphyte analysis, and acclimatization of Posidonia oceanica in aquariums for tolerance studies. Currently, as a Graduating in Marine Sciences in the University of Cadiz, I have made several stays at ICMAN-CSIC in the Department of Ecology and Coastal Management, allowing me to participate in oceanographic campaigns, symposiums and where I am performing my Bachelor’s thesis on microplastic ingestion by commercial species.

Patricia Rubio


Graduated in Biology from the University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH). I did my degree internship at ICMAN-CSIC (Cádiz, Spain) studying the larval and juvenile development of the decapod crustacean Xantho poressa, for a thesis chapter and my final degree project on the feeding habits of the intertidal crab Xantho poressa. Throughout my life my interest in marine biology has increased, that is why, through professional diving, drone piloting and scientific dissemination I show the curiosities of marine life in my account @pat_diving. Currently, I am working on my master thesis at ICMAN-CSIC in the Department of Ecology and Coastal Management.

Antonio Moreno

OPECAM Field Unit

Antonio Moreno is a technician in marine aquaculture. Since 1996 he has continued his professional training specializing in subaquatic activities (between others “Professional Shallow Diving” in 2004 at the Instituto Politécnico Marítimo Pesquero del Estrecho, “Cold Water Diving” in 2019 at the Spanish Navy and the “Scientific Diver” accreditation in 2004 by the Instituto de Investigación y Formación Agraria y Pesquera (IFAPA), navigation (Underwater Navigation, Basic Navigation Skipper, Competence Certificate for Sailor between others) and safety in both activities (Diving Rescue, Basic Survival at Sea, First Aid in Diving). Throughout his professional career he has worked for public institutions (Empresa Pública para el Desarrollo Agrario y Pesquero, Instituto de Ciencias Marinas de Andalucía ICMAN-CSIC) and private companies (Cultivos Piscícolas Marinos S.A.) related to aquaculture and fisheries participating in hydrological campaigns, ichthyo and zooplankton sampling and following sampling treatment (organisms identification and separation), transport of live aquatic organisms, maintenance of hatcheries and nursery of crustaceans, mollusks and fish, etc.).

David Roque Atienza

OPECAM Field Unit

I am a working as a field technician (OPECAM). My main task is provide support to the many research activities in the natural environment carried out by the ICMAN and others Institutions. Degree in Marine Science from Cádiz University, since 2000, I have worked as marine technician in different Institutions as Cádiz, University, ICMAN-CSIC, IIM-CSIC and SOCIB focus in the oceanography studies. Actually I have a permanent position in the ICMAN collaborating with all research project and supporting the field work. Also, I have different licenses (diving, skipper, drone pilot) to obtain all natural environmental samples, keeping us updated to support the different scientific studies.

Elena Ortega Jimenez

PhD Student (FPI)

I graduated in Biology in 2018. Since my third year of grade, I worked as an intern student at the laboratory of Marine biology at the University of Seville, where I learnt to identify taxonomically diverse benthonic invertebrates. I realized a master in Biodiversity and Conservation Biology and I did my master thesis about the impact of artificial substrates over the biodiversity of molluscs intertidal communities in Algeciras bay. From 2019 to 2021 I worked as a supporting technician at the University of Cádiz, at the laboratory of sea slugs phylogeny and taxonomy. I learnt diverse techniques of molecular genetics, histology, fieldwork, laboratory management, divulgation, audiovisual support and teaching, among others. In 2021 I have received an FPI fellowship, in ICMAN-CSIC at the department of Ecology and Coastal management. The topic of my PhD is the biology and the management of the invasive blue crab, Callinectes sapidus, in the Gulf of Cádiz. My research-interest are marine coastal ecology, invertebrates, invasive species, ecological engineering and ecosystem interactions.

Entidades participantes.