Niche differentiation between sympatric alien aquatic crustaceans: an isotopic evidence.
Among the mechanisms that allow competing species to coexist are resource partitioning and dietary segregation. The current study uses multiple stable isotopes, carbon (δ13C), nitrogen (δ15N) and sulphur (δ34S), to test the hypothesis that dietary segregation in cohabiting invasive mysids (Limnomysis benedeni and Katamysis warpachowskyi) and gammarids (Dikerogammarus villosus and Gammarus roeselii) will be reflected by differences in isotope values. Furthermore, IsoError mixing models were used to estimate the relative contributions of periphyton and seston to the invaders' diets. Whole tissue δ13C, δ15N and δ34S analysis in L. benedeni and K. warpachowskyi imply that these sympatric, non-native mysids maintain differentiated feeding niches or resource partitioning by feeding on distinct components of the available food resources (predominantly seston by L. benedeni and periphyton by K. warpachowskyi). By contrast, the gammarids D. villosus ('killer shrimp') and G. roeselii exhibited no significant difference in δ13C and δ15N, indicating a considerable overlap between the dietary sources of these sympatric invaders. Feeding niche differentiation, irrespective of season or the nature of habitat invaded (lake or river), might facilitate the coexistence of invasive mysids in their 'new' environment by minimizing direct resource competition. The mutual interaction by the invasive gammarids, coupled with voracious behavior, could assist their success at co-invasion with serious implications for local biodiversity including the potential extinction of native species.