As biological invasions continue, interactions occur not only between invaders and natives, but increasingly new invaders come into contact with previous invaders. Whilst this can lead to species replacements, co-existence may occur, but we lack knowledge of processes driving such patterns. Since environmental heterogeneity can determine species richness and co-existence, the present study examines habitat use and its mediation of the predatory interaction between invasive aquatic amphipods, the Ponto-Caspian Dikerogammarus villosus and the N. American Gammarus tigrinus. In the Dutch Lake IJsselmeer, we found broad segregation of D. villosus and G. tigrinus by habitat type, the former predominating in the boulder zone and the latter in the soft sediment. However, the two species co-exist in the boulder zone, both on the short and longer terms. We used an experimental simulation of habitat heterogeneity and show that both species utilize crevices, different sized holes in a plastic grid, non-randomly. These amphipods appear to optimise the use of holes with respect to their 'C-shape' body size. When placed together, D. villosus adults preyed on G. tigrinus adults and juveniles, while G. tigrinus adults preyed on D. villosus juveniles. Juveniles were also predators and both species were cannibalistic. However, the impact on G. tigrinus of the superior intraguild predator, D. villosus, was significantly reduced where experimental grids were present as compared to absent. This mitigation of intraguild predation between the two species in complex habitats may explain the co-existence of these two invasive species.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics