Scientia Marina, Vol 81, No 1 (2017)

Northernmost record of the pantropical portunid crab Cronius ruber in the eastern Atlantic (Canary Islands): natural range extension or human-mediated introduction?

José A. González
Ecología Marina Aplicada y Pesquerías, i-UNAT, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria , Spain

Raül Triay-Portella
Ecología Marina Aplicada y Pesquerías, i-UNAT, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria , Spain

Aitor Escribano
Université de Liège , Belgium

José A. Cuesta
Instituto de Ciencias Marinas de Andalucía, CSIC , Spain


The pantropical crab Cronius ruber (Lamarck, 1818) (Brachyura: Portunidae) is recorded for the first time from the Canary Islands. Previously known from off Cape Verde Islands and Senegal, this is the northernmost record of the species in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Crabs have been caught by means of a collecting small trap for sampling in shallow waters, and then identified by both morphological characters and DNA barcoding (16S). Cytochrome c oxidase I partial sequence has been obtained for this species for the first time. This relatively large and very aggressive crab species seems to be rapidly occupying both hard substrates (sublittoral caves) and soft substrates (sand with seagrass meadow) adjacent to shallow rocky bottoms, at depths between 2 and 10 m, in the warm southern waters of Gran Canaria Island. The reasons for this species’ occurrence are discussed herein. Among them, natural range extension may be a consequence of tropicalization in the eastern Atlantic. Also, a human-mediated introduction could be based on the heavy traffic of ships (ballast waters or oil platforms) arriving at the Canary Islands from African countries and from Brazil in the last decade.


zoogeografía; expansión natural; introducción antropogénica; Brachyura; cangrejo; Cronius ruber; Islas Canarias; Atlántico oriental; código de barras genético

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