Factors influencing the distribution of native and introduced Gammarus spp. in Irish river systems

C. MacNeil, Ian Montgomery, J.T.A. Dick, Robert Elwood

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40 Citations (Scopus)


Populations of Gammarus duebeni celticus, previously the only amphipod species resident in the rivers of the Lough Neagh catchment, N. Ireland, have been subjected to invasion by G. pulex from the British mainland. Numerous previous studies have investigated the potential behavioural mechanisms, principally differential mutual predation, underlying the replacement of G. d. celticus by G. pulex in Irish waters, and the mutually exclusive distributions of these species in Britain and mainland Europe. However, the relative degree of influence of abiotic versus biotic factors in structuring these amphipod communities remains unresolved. This study used principal component analysis (PCA) to distinguish physico-chemical parameters that have significant roles in determining the current distribution of G. pulex relative to G. d. celticus in L. Neagh rivers. We show that the original domination of rivers by the native G. d, celticus has changed radically, with many sites in several rivers containing either both species or only G. pulex. G. pulex was more abundant than the G. d. celticus in sites with low dissolved oxygen levels. This was reflected in the macroinvertebrate assemblages associated with G. pulex in these sites, which tended to be those tolerant of low biological water quality. The present study thus emphasizes the importance of the habitat template, particularly water quality, for Gammarus spp. interactions. If rivers become increasingly stressed by organic pollution, it is probable the range expansion of G. pulex will continue. Because these two species are not ecological equivalents, the outcomes of G. pulex incursions into G. d. celticus sites may ultimately depend on the prevailing physico-chemical regimes in each site.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-368
Number of pages16
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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