Chinese mitten crab research

Why study Chinese mitten crabs?

The Chinese mitten crab, Eriocheir sinensis, is a contentious invasive species. It is well established in many northeast European water catchments. Recent studies suggest the species is now in the UK in large numbers and its presence could pose a real threat to riverine environments.

What problems do they cause?

This alien species undermines the native ecological structure and disrupts fishing operations by:

  • burrowing into, and eventually collapsing, unprotected riverbanks
  • out-competing and preying on native species
  • destroying nets with its sharp claws and damaging fish caught within them

Research aims:

By studying the biology and behaviour of E. sinensis, we hope to enable informed decisions about the possible control of this species and its eradication from areas outside its native habitat of China.

  • Chinese mitten crab, Eriocheir sinensis
    About Chinese mitten crabs

    Learn about the taxonomy and systematics of mitten crabs, and how to identify them. Get information about their lifestyles, distribution and how they are introduced to new regions.

  • Mitten crab purchased from a street market in Hong Kong
    Commercial exploitation of mitten crabs research project

    Mitten crabs are a popular food delicacy in southeast Asia. Find out about research carried out by Museum scientists to assess whether commercial exploitation could be used to control invasive populations, including whether Thames mitten crabs are fit for human consumption.

  • A fyke net
    Fyke net research

    This major project aims to target and invasive species while helping the conservation of another.

  • Paul Clark
    Mitten crab research team

    Meet the team of people at the Museum involved in mitten crab research projects.

Selected Museum mitten crab publications

  • Paul Clark et al. (1998) The alien Chinese mitten crab in the Thames catchment. Available to download from the JMBA website.
  • Clark PF, Mortimer D, Law RJ, Averns J, Cohen B, Wood D, Rose M, Fernandes A, Rainbow PS (2009) Dioxin and PCB contamination in Thames Chinese mitten crabs: implications for human consumption as a control mechanism for an alien invader. Environmental Science and Technology. 43(5): 1624-1629.
The commercial exploitation of Thames mitten crabs: a feasibility study: