Green crab larval retention in Willapa Bay, Washington: an intensive Lagrangian modeling approach

Neil S. Banas, P. Sean McDonald, David A. Armstrong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


The European green crab (Carcinus maenas) is invasive on the U.S. West Coast. This study uses a high-resolution circulation model to determine the likelihood that green crab larvae spawned in Willapa Bay, Washington could be retained by circulation and behavior long enough to reach maturity and resettle within the bay. A particle-tracking method (the "diffusive Lagrangian return map") is presented that makes it possible to track the dispersion of hundreds of thousands of model larvae-each subject to three-dimensional advection, vertical turbulent diffusion, and imposed vertical migration behavior-over their full 30-50 days development time with modest computational resources. Larvae spawned in summer show significant retention (5-40%) in the southern and western portions of the bay, including the Stackpole shoals near the mouth, the area most likely to be colonized by late-stage megalopae arriving from the coastal ocean. Larvae spawned in spring show much less retention throughout the bay because of (1) increased flushing caused by increased river input relative to summer conditions and (2) longer development times caused by lower water temperatures. The role of larval swimming behavior is secondary to hydrodynamics in setting these spatial and seasonal patterns of retention. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)893-905
Number of pages13
JournalEstuaries and Coasts
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • biophysical modeling
  • circulation modeling
  • dispersion
  • green crab
  • individual-based modeling
  • invasive species
  • larval behavior
  • particle tracking
  • Willapa Bay


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