Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

An invasive amphibian drives antipredator responses in two prey at different trophic positions.

Abstract

Generalist invasive predators consume prey at different trophic levels and generate drastic changes in local communities. However, the long-term effects of predation may be reduced by eco-evolutionary responses of native populations. The capacity of prey species distributed across the trophic network to develop antipredator responses may determine the ecosystem potential to buffer against the invader. The African clawed frog is a major invader on several continents. Because of its large size, generalist diet, and aquatic lifestyle, we predicted the development of antipredator responses in prey species at different trophic levels. We tested for behavioral shifts between populations within and outside the invasive range in the herbivorous snail Physella acuta and the predatory heteropteran, the backswimmer Notonecta glauca. We detected antipredator responses in both prey species. In sympatry, P. acuta stayed higher in the water column, while N. glauca spent more time swimming underwater and less time surfacing when the predator cues were present. In allopatry, P. acuta dived deeper and N. glauca spent more time surfacing and stayed longer still underwater. In both species, sympatric populations showed evidence of olfactory recognition of the frog. Our results show that the introduction of a top predator like Xenopus laevis in the pond ecosystem drives behavioral antipredator responses in species across the trophic network. Eco-evolutionary processes may allow some degree of long-term resilience of pond communities to the invasion of X. laevis.