Direct and indirect effects of species displacements; an invading freshwater amphipod can disrupt leaf litter processing and shredder efficiency

C. MacNeil, J.T.A. Dick, D. Platvoet, M. Briffa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Invasive species may threaten the fundamental role played by native macroinvertebrate shredders in determining energy flow and the trophic dynamics of freshwater ecosystems. Functionally, amphipods have long been regarded as mainly shredders, but they are increasingly recognized as major predators of other macroinvertebrate taxa. Furthermore, intraguild predation (IGP) between native and invasive amphipods underlies many species displacements. We used laboratory mesocosms to investigate what might happen to shredders and leaf-litter processing in water bodies invaded by the highly predatory Ponto-Caspian amphipod Dikerogammarus villosus, which is spreading rapidly throughout Europe and may soon invade the North American Great Lakes. The leaf-shredding efficiency of D. villosus was significantly lower than that of 3 Gammarus species (2 native and 1 invasive) that D. villosus has either already displaced or may be currently displacing in The Netherlands. In addition, D. villosus was a major predator of all of these native and invasive amphipod shredders and of a common isopod shredder Asellus aquaticus. Leaf processing in Gammarus and Asellus mesocosms declined rapidly in the presence of D. villosus and ceased altogether within 4 d because by then, all potential shredders had been killed and consumed. Furthermore, the shredding efficiency of surviving amphipods and isopods declined significantly within 2 d of the release of D. villosus, a result indicating that predator-avoidance behavior may override leaf processing. We discuss the implications of these direct and indirect effects of D. villosus invasions and species displacements on community structure and litter processing in aquatic ecosystems. © 2011 The North American Benthological Society.


Reaxys Database Information|
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-48
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the North American Benthological Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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