Invasion of Laguncula pulchella (Gastropoda: Naticidae) and predator-prey interactions with bivalves on the Tona coast, Miyagi prefecture, northern Japan.
On the Tona coast, Miyagi prefecture, northern Japan, interactions between the alien predator Laguncula pulchella and its bivalve prey were explored using annually collected quadrat samples over a 10 year period, from 2001 to 2010. A single L. pulchella individual was first recorded in 2002, and the density increased 12-fold from 2002 to 2004. In contrast, population densities of Ruditapes philippinarum and Macoma incongrua rapidly decreased during this interval. Based on frequency of predatory drill holes on the dead shells, more than 35% of Ruditapes philippinarum and 20% of Macoma incongrua died because of naticid predation after 2004, while Pillucina pisidium was less vulnerable to naticid predation. L. pulchella focused attacks on P. pisidium in 2004, when R. philippinarum and M. incongrua had became scarce due to naticid predation. This species-selective predation affected bivalve community structure, and caused disagreements in taxonomic composition and species' rank-order abundance between the living bivalve community and the assemblage of dead shells. This approach (live-dead analysis), frequently used in paleoecological research, is a conservative tool to identify impacts of an alien predator on community structure. When sample size is sufficient, frequency of predatory drill holes in preferred prey species is likely to reflect predation intensity.