Waves of Invaders: Interactions among Invasive Species and their Impacts on Ecosystem Structure and Functioning
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Many freshwater ecosystems sustain several invasive species. Here I examine multiple invasions in two highly invaded and well catalogued catchments; Lake Naivasha, Kenya and River Thames, England. New metrics, derived from stable isotope analysis, are used to provide measures of trophic diversity and to examine dietary interactions among species. I test the hypothesis that functionally similar sympatric species will occupy a smaller niche than their allopatric counterparts. Additionally, I quantify the impact of multiple invasive species on ecosystem structure and functioning in order to address the question; do interactions among species amplify or mitigate one another’s impact? In Lake Naivasha, the stable isotope metrics revealed serial replacement of invasive species due to dietary interactions. Invasive red swamp crayfish were eventually excluded from the lake due to niche restriction in the presence of a more recent invader, the common carp. Now, the crayfish have migrated into the catchment where they overlap with a species of native river crab. Here, I found a novel mechanism of invasion, whereby the crayfish restricted their niche at the invasion front in order to reduce competition with crabs. Crayfish also caused significant changes in invertebrate community structure and increased decomposition rates, which indirectly resulted in displacement of the crabs. In the Thames catchment, I catalogue the non-indigenous species and show how invasion rates have increased significantly since 1800 due to globalisation. Using the four species of invasive crayfish present (red swamp, signal, Turkish and virile), I demonstrate their extensive diet plasticity using novel measures of niche width and individual specialisation based on stable isotope data. Interactions among the crayfish were examined and this revealed that each species has varying and independent impacts on invertebrate community structure, algal standing stock and decomposition rates. Hence, interactions among invaders are not expected to amplify or mitigate one another’s impact and instead, the combined impact will be the sum of their allopatric impacts.
AuthorsJackson, Michelle C
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