Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Ontogenetic shift in the trophic role of the invasive killer shrimp Dikerogammarus villosus: a stable isotope study.

Abstract

The introduction of the amphipod Dikerogammarus villosus in European fresh waters is to date recognized as a threat to the integrity of invaded communities. Predation by D. villosus on native benthic invertebrates is assumed as the key determinant of its ecological impact, yet available information describe the species as a primary consumer as well as a carnivore depending on local conditions. Here, we assessed the trophic position (TP) of D. villosus in Lake Trasimeno, a recently invaded lentic system in central Italy, using the CN isotopic signatures of individuals captured in winter spanning two orders of magnitude in body size. TP estimations were compared with those characterizing the native amphipod Echinogammarus veneris and other representative invertebrate predators. On average, D. villosus showed a trophic position higher than E. veneris, and comparable with that of odonate nymphs. An in-depth analysis revealed that large-sized individuals had a trophic position of 3.07, higher than odonates and close to that of the hirudinean predator Erpobdella octoculata, while small-sized specimens had a trophic position of 2.57, similar to that of E. veneris (2.41). These findings indicate that size-related ontogenetic shifts in dietary habits may per se vary the nature of the interaction between Dikerogammarus villosus and native invertebrates from competition to predation. Information collated from published isotopic studies corroborated the generality of our results. We conclude that intra-specific trophic flexibility may potentially amplify and make more multifaceted the impact of the species on other invertebrate species in invaded food webs.