Integration of an invasive consumer into an estuarine food web: direct and indirect effects of the New Zealand mud snail.
Brenneis, V. E. F.; Sih, A.; Rivera, C. E. de
Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA.
Oecologia 2011 Vol. 167 No. 1 pp. 169-179
Springer Berlin, Heidelberg, Germany
Language of Text
Introduced species interact both directly and indirectly with native species. We examine interactions between the introduced New Zealand mud snail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) and native estuarine invertebrates and predators through experiments and field studies. A widely held management concern is that when P. antipodarum, which has low nutritional value, becomes abundant, it replaces nutritious prey in fish diets. We tested two key components of this view: (1) that fish consume, but get little direct nutritional value from P. antipodarum; and (2) that P. antipodarum has an indirect negative effect on fish by reducing the energy derived from native prey. We also examined predation by the native signal crayfish, Pacifastacus leniusculus. Laboratory feeding trials showed that both crayfish and fish consume P. antipodarum, a direct effect. Crayfish consumed and successfully digested higher numbers of snails than did fish [Pacific staghorn sculpin (Leptocottus armatus), three spine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus), and juvenile starry flounder (Platicthys stellatus)]. P. antipodarum occurred at low frequencies in the stomachs of wild-caught fish. More interesting were the indirect effects of this invader, which ran counter to predictions. P. antipodarum presence was associated with no change or an increase in the amount of energy derived from native prey by predators. The presence of P. antipodarum also led to increased consumption of and preference for the native amphipod Americorophium salmonis over the native isopod Gnorimosphaeroma insulare. This is an example of short-term, asymmetric, apparent competition, in which the presence of one prey species (snails) increases predation on another prey species (the amphipod).