Original paper

Potential roles for differential body size and microhabitat complexity in mediating biotic interactions within invasive freshwater amphipod assemblages

MacNeil, Calum; Platvoet, Dirk; Dick, Jamie T.A.


Cannibalism and intraguild predation (IGP) are common amongst freshwater amphipod crustacean aswsemblages, particularly between individuals of different body size, with IGP of smaller by larger species. The decline of Gammarus tigrinus populations in mainland Europe has been accompanied by the arrival of the Ponto-Caspian invader Dikerogammarus villosus and previous studies have implicated IGP of G. tigrinus by the larger D. villosus, as the principal driving force in this replacement. We examined how factors such as microhabitat and body size may mediate both cannibalism within G. tigrinus populations and IGP by D. villosus and thus contribute to field patterns of coexistence and exclusion. A field survey of an invaded Dutch lake indicated that G. tigrinus and D. villosus differed in distribution, with D. villosus being the numerically dominant amphipod (80-96 %) on the rocky boulder substrate of the shoreline and G. tigrinus being the dominant amphipod (100 %) in the crushed shell/sand matrix immediately adjacent to this. Laboratory microcosm experiments indicated that G. tigrinus cannibalism, particularly of smaller by larger size classes, may be common. In addition, although D. villosus predation of all G. tigrinus size classes was extreme, the smallest size classes suffered the highest predation. Indeed, when exposed to D. villosus, predation of larger G. tigrinus was lowest when smaller G. tigrinus were also present. Increasing microhabitat complexity from a simple bare substrate littered with Dreissena polymorpha zebra mussels to a crushed shell/sand matrix significantly reduced both cannibalism and IGP. Our study emphasizes the need to consider both life history stages and habitat template, when considering the impacts of biotic interactions and it also emphasizes that complex, interacting factors may be mediating the range expansion of D. villosus.


cannibalismintraguild predationamphipodgammarusdikerogammarus