Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Prey naïveté rather than enemy release dominates the relation of an invasive spider toward a native predator.

Abstract

Ecosystems may suffer from the impact of invasive species. Thus, understanding the mechanisms contributing to successful invasions is fundamental for limiting the effects of invasive species. Most intuitive, the enemy release hypothesis predicts that invasive species might be more successful in the exotic range than resident sympatric species owing to the absence of coevolution with native enemies. Here, we test the enemy release hypothesis for the invasion of Europe by the North American spider Mermessus trilobatus. We compare the susceptibility of invasive Mermessus trilobatus and a native species with similar life history to a shared predator with which both species commonly co-occur in Europe. Contrary to our expectations, invasive Mermessus trilobatus were consumed three times more frequently by native predators than their native counterparts. Our study shows that invasive Mermessus trilobatus is more sensitive to a dominant native predator than local sympatric species. This suggests that the relation between the invasive spider and its native predator is dominated by prey naïveté rather than enemy release. Further studies investigating evolutionary and ecological processes behind the invasion success of Mermessus trilobatus, including testing natural parasites and rapid reproduction, are needed to explain its invasion success in Europe.