Stable isotope analysis reveals trophic segregation between the invasive zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha and the native duck mussel Anodonta anatina in Lake Trasimeno (Italy).
Non-indigenous freshwater bivalves negatively affect invaded ecosystems through different mechanisms, including inter-specific competition for trophic resources. Here, we investigated in Lake Trasimeno (Central Italy) the diet of the invasive Dreissena polymorpha and the native Anodonta anatina. δ 15N and δ 13C stable isotopes were measured in winter and summer in bivalves, phytoplankton, and sedimentary organic matter (SOM); the relative dietary contributions of the two resources were determined using Bayesian mixing models. To elucidate the different carbon and nitrogen pools characterizing the study site, isotopic analyses were extended to zooplankton and to representatives of the benthic flora and macroinvertebrate fauna. Independently from the season, the two bivalves showed a limited trophic overlap, as mixing models indicated for D. polymorpha a diet based primarily on phytoplankton, while A. anatina relied mainly on SOM. Dietary differences were less marked in summer, when comparable isotopic values characterized phytoplankton and SOM. In winter, conversely, the trophic differentiation between the two species was more evident, and corresponded with a significant enrichment in SOM δ 13C values, likely due to a substantial contribution of carbon deriving from decaying macrophytes. Whether differences in ecological and behavioral traits alone can explain the observed trophic segregation between the two species, or if they have actively shifted their diet to reduce competition for food is discussed. We conclude emphasizing the need of an advanced resolution of the influence of non-indigenous species on the flux of energy and matter in invaded lentic systems, including Lake Trasimeno.