Effects of coexistence on habitat use and trophic ecology of interacting native and invasive amphipods

  • Piscart C
  • Roussel J
  • Dick J
 et al. 
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Summary 1. Invasive species in aquatic systems are major drivers of changes in biodiversity. Amphipods are key species in freshwaters, with invasive amphipods either replacing or coexisting with native species and often damaging local biodiversity. However, the consequences of interactions among native and invasive amphipods for their habitat use and feeding ecology and ecosystem function are not yet well understood. 2. We examined a number of streams in Brittany and Northern Ireland, with native and invasive amphipods, to evaluate the consequences of species interactions for both habitat use and diet. Our field studies centred on testing two proposed models: a cohabitation model without competition between two native species (Gammarus pulex vs Echinogammarus berilloni), and a competition model between an invasive and a native species (Gammarus pulex vs Gammarus duebeni celticus). For these three species, alone and in combination, we assessed their habitat use and feeding patterns, the latter through gut contents and stable C and N isotope analyses of their tissues. 3. When existing as single-species populations, all three species used stream habitats broadly similarly, although G. pulex was more strongly associated with leaf litter and vegetation compared to pebble substrata than the other species. When G. pulex coexisted with either E. berilloni or G. d. celticus, the latter two changed to using all habitats equally, whereas the former retained its habitat preferences. 4. Similarly, all three species when alone had similar gut contents, with inorganic material predominating, followed by leaf and woody material and more rarely algae and invertebrates. When G. pulex coexisted with E. berilloni, the diet of the latter did not change; however, the frequency of inorganic matter, leaves and wood declined in the gut contents of G. pulex. When G. pulex coexisted with G. d. celticus, the pattern of gut contents did not change in either species. 5. When existing as single-species populations, G. pulex had a broader range of isotopic signatures, both for δ13C and for δ15N, than the two other species, indicating a more variable diet among individuals. When G. pulex coexisted with either E. berilloni or G. d. celticus, the latter two had similar ranges of δ13C and δ15N, whereas for G. pulex the range was much less for δ13C and δ15N, suggesting a less diverse diet. 6. Our results infer two different modes of coexistence between native and non-native amphipods. We have shown that the native species, which coexist stably, appear to show interference competition, leading to spatial habitat segregation, whereas competition for food and possible intraguild predation by G. pulex on G. d. celticus would explain why the distribution and density of the latter is affected by G. pulex. However, since all the species have a similar diet and feeding habit, we expect no great overall effect on ecosystem processes as a consequence of species interactions and displacements.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Biological invasions
  • Competition
  • Diet shift
  • Gut content
  • Stable isotope analysis

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  • Christophe Piscart

  • Jean Marc Roussel

  • Jaimie T.A. Dick

  • Guillaume Grosbois

  • Pierre Marmonier

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