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Biology of the invasive Chinese mitten crab in the river Thames

School of Biological Sciences

About the Project

The Chinese mitten crab, Eriocheir sinensis, is an invasive brachyuran crab species (one of the top 100 most invasive species) that is now well established in the River Thames and tributaries. This project aims to establish new information on the reproductive biology of the species in the Thames catchment, including female fecundity, occurrence and migration of juvenile crabs and possibly larval biology of the species in the Thames estuary (if funds are available). Alternatively the project could focus on the impacts of E. sinensis on native biota through feeding activities and build upon laboratory studies that have shown feeding on native species of mollusc, crustacean and insect larvae as well as feeding on fish eggs of a range of sizes. The project will link to other collaborative research projects monitoring the spread of the species in the UK (, looking at net designs for fishing mitten crabs and the potential effects of mitten crabs on bank erosion. Training will be provided in field work; brachyuran crab taxonomy, anatomy and morphometrics; aquarium maintenance of animals and all relevant laboratory techniques. The PhD would be jointly supervised with Dr Paul Clark at the Natural History Museum, London.


Mills, C.D, Clark, P.F. & Morritt, D. (2016) Flexible prey handling, preference and a novel capture technique in invasive, sub-adult Chinese mitten crabs. Hydrobiologia Vol. 733: 135 - 147
Morritt, D., Mills, H., Hind, K., Clifton-Dey, D. & Clark, P.F. (2013) Monitoring downstream migrations of Eriocheir sinensis H. Mine Edwards, 1853 (Crustacea: Brachyura: Grapsoidea: Varunidae) in the River Thames using capture data from a water abstraction intake. Management of Biological Invasions Vol. 4: 139-147
Webster, J.M., Clark, P.F. & Morritt, D. (2015) Laboratory based feeding behaviour of the Chinese mitten crab, Eriocheir sinensis, (Crustacea: Decapoda, Brachyura, Varunidae): fish egg consumption. Aquatic Invasions Vol. 10: 313 - 326

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