How shrimp from Japan are impacting New Jersey’s ecosystem

An invasive shrimp called Palaemon macrodactylus has been spotted in states like Connecticut, New York, Delaware and Maryland. It’s why six years ago biology professor Lauren Bergey and her team began research to see if they existed in New Jersey. They did. She believes the shrimp, known in this lab as macros, came to New Jersey by shipping vessels from Japan.

Bergey and a group of undergraduate students from Centenary University collect samples from different locations across the state once a month to try to find the answer.

The researchers question how it will impact the native population. If the invasive shrimp population increases, it can disrupt the existing ecosystem. Palaemon macrodactylus can get to food faster and can better evade predation from blue crabs and fish. It all could impact the fishing industry.

Students say the invasive shrimp tends to hide in dark spaces to protect itself from predators and that they also have much bigger front claws than native shrimp, which also helps it to survive. They’ve also discovered invasive shrimp have less parasites and trauma than the native shrimp.

Despite also reproducing more than native shrimp, the biology professor says the population of invasive shrimp is consistent but has not increased over the past six years.