Predicting the ecological impacts of damaging invasive species under relevant environmental contexts is a major challenge, for which comparative functional responses (the relationship between resource availability and consumer uptake rate) have great potential. Here, the functional responses of Gammarus pulex, an ecologically damaging invader in freshwaters in Ireland and other islands, were compared with those of a native trophic equivalent Gammarus duebeni celticus. Experiments were conducted at two dissolved oxygen concentrations (80 and 50 % saturation), representative of anthropogenic water quality changes, using two larval prey, blackfly (Simuliidae spp.) and mayfly (Baetis rhodani). Overall, G. pulex had higher Type II functional responses and hence predatory impacts than G. d. celticus and the functional responses of both predators were reduced by lowered oxygen concentration. However, this reduction was of lower magnitude for the invader as compared to the native. Further, the invader functional response at low oxygen was comparable to that of the native at high oxygen. Attack rates of the two predators were similar, with low oxygen reducing these attack rates, but this effect occurred more strongly for blackfly than mayfly prey. Handling times were significantly lower for the invader compared with the native, and significantly higher at low oxygen, however, the effect of lowered oxygen on handling times was minimal for the invader and pronounced for the native. Maximum feeding rates were significantly greater for the invader compared with the native, and significantly reduced at low oxygen, with this effect again lesser for the invader as compared to the native. The greater functional responses of the invader corroborate with its impacts on recipient macroinvertebrate communities when it replaces the native. Further, our experiments predict that the impact of the invader will be less affected than the native under altered oxygen regimes driven by anthropogenic influences.
Laverty, C., Dick, J. T. A., Alexander, M. E., & Lucy, F. E. (2015). Differential ecological impacts of an invader and a native under environmental change are revealed by comparative functional responses. Biological Invasions, 17(6), 1761-1770. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-014-0832-9