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Keywords:

  • amphipod;
  • Dikerogammarus villosus;
  • Gammarus pulex;
  • intraguild predation;
  • invader

Abstract

Predation between invading and native species can produce patterns of exclusion and coexistence. Dikerogammarus villosus, a Ponto-Caspian amphipod species, has invaded many central European freshwaters in the past decade, replacing native Gammarus amphipod species. For instance, the arrival of D. villosus in Holland has been accompanied by the decline of Gammarus duebeni and G. tigrinus populations within invaded systems. This study examined what may happen when D. villosus eventually encounters native Dutch populations of Gammarus pulex, and how factors such as microhabitat and food resource availability could contribute to a future species replacement or coexistence. A laboratory simulation of a lake/pooled area of river indicated that G. pulex and D. villosus differed in distribution within the same habitat, and showed that although the distribution of the native differed in the presence of the invader, the presence of the native had no effect on the distribution of the invader. Gammarus pulex suffered severe intraguild predation (IGP) from D. villosus in mixed species treatments with no reciprocal predation of D. villosus by G. pulex. This IGP occurred regardless of whether no alternative food resource was available (91% of the G. pulex population eliminated after 7 days), or alternative foods/prey were available to excess, such as leaf material (85%), chironomids (77%) or fish food flakes (74%). We conclude that although differential microdistribution of the two species could promote coexistence, the presence of alternative foods/prey resources, merely slow the rate of IGP and replacement of the native by the invader. Our study joins one of an increasing number emphasizing the potential damaging impacts of D. villosus on native communities.