Rye High School Senior Maggie Graseck was recognized as one of only 300 Regeneron Science Scholars for her project on oysters and crabs: Comparing the Eating Habits of Hemigrapsus sanguineus and Panopeus herbstii. Graseck and the school each get a cool $2K from Tarrytown based Regeneron.
“I had such a great time learning all about oysters, crabs, and the Long Island sound ecosystem for this project – being recognized as a Top 300 scholar in the Regeneron Science Talent is just the icing on the cake!,” said Graseck. “I’m so thankful for all the help I got from my science research teacher Ms. Mitchell and mentor Dr. Rubbo throughout the entire project, as well as my mother’s help editing and father inspiring my love of the scientific process.”
“I am so proud of Maggie achieving this recognition for her scientific talent,” said her teacher Sally “Sally B Chemistry” Mitchell. “Her research has an enormous impact on the environment.”
The abstract for Comparing the Eating Habits of Hemigrapsus sanguineus and Panopeus herbstii:
The invasive Asian shore crab, Hemigrapsus sanguineus, poses an alarming threat to the Long Island Sound ecosystem. These crabs reproduce much faster and have a much broader diet than native crabs, resulting in a competitive advantage that may threaten local plants and animals, including other crab species, that make up the Asian shore crab’s diet. Although many research studies have been conducted on the Asian shore crab’s dietary preferences in the past, this study aims to compare the Asian shore crab’s consumption of specifically native juvenile eastern oysters, Crassostrea virginica, to the Long Island mud crab, Panopeus herbstii’s consumption, and determine if the Asian shore crab poses a greater threat to the oysters comparatively.
To test the comparative predation of the crabs, nine invasive Asian shore crabs and eleven mud crabs were collected and placed in separate containers. Each crab was given five juvenile oysters and a 75% water change daily, in which 75% of the water in each container was removed and replaced with new water. The crabs’ carapace width and number of oysters eaten daily was recorded. Additionally, a few crabs were observed in a small behavioral study in which crabs were either individually eating oysters or competing for oysters with the other species. Contrasting what was hypothesized, mud crabs ate significantly more oysters than Asian shore crabs, with similar results reflected in the observational study. From these results, it does not appear that the Asian shore crab is an effective predator of eastern oysters as the mud crabs ate more oysters (p = 0.019) and attacked more often (p = 0.05) than the Asian shore crabs. However, results of the behavioral study indicate that the Asian shore crab exhibits unique behaviors that may give this species a competitive advantage against the mud crab in the wild. Further research into the competitive behavior of the Asian shore crab and its diet of oysters and native mollusks should be studied in order to further determine the possible effects of the invasive species on the Long Island Sound ecosystem.