Food consumption of the invasive amphipod Dikerogammarus villosus in field mesocosms and its effects on leaf decomposition and periphyton
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Invasive species can affect native communities by replacing competitors, overexploiting prey species or altering ecosystem structure. One example is the Ponto-Caspian amphipod Dikerogammarus villosus which has established large populations in European rivers and is widely considered as the main cause for the decline of native benthic invertebrates. This effect has been mainly associated with direct predation, whereas the indirect effects via competition for primary resources are poorly understood and possibly underestimated. To assess the probability of these indirect effects, we performed five outdoor flow-through mesocosm experiments in three European rivers, manipulating the density of D. villosus. We quantified its in-situ food consumption during three 24-h gut content surveys in the mesocosms. Gut evacuation rates for correction were measured in the laboratory for different food sources and under continuous feeding. We analysed the invader’s effects on primary resources by quantifying periphyton biomass and community leaf litter decomposition in the mesocosms at different D. villosus densities. The remarkably high food consumption rates (0.38–1.27 mg mg-1 d-1, in dry mass/dry body mass) of D. villosus can be attributed to its high gut evacuation rates. The leaf litter decomposition rates indicate that D. villosus is an efficient shredder; however, there was no effect on periphyton biomass. Our results indicate that D. villosus may be a strong competitor with primary consumers in benthic food webs of invaded rivers, with both direct and indirect negative effects on benthic communities. High consumption rates together with opportunistic feeding behaviour probably promote the invasion success of this amphipod.
AuthorsWorischka, S; Richter, L; Hänig, A; Hellmann, C; Becker, J; KRATINA, P; Winkelmann, C
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