Previous studies have shown that differential predation by males on moulted female congenerics may be largely responsible for the elimination and replacement of the native Irish freshwater amphipod Gammarus duebeni celticus by the introduced G. pulex. Predation of moulted females occurs both shortly after their release from precopulatory mate-guarding and whilst they are being guarded by their mates. In the present study, two hypotheses concerning the underlying cause(s) of the differential predation pattern are tested. Firstly, female G. d. celticus may be more vulnerable to predation than female G. pulex due to the former being released from precopula guarding with the new exoskeleton in a less hardened state. Secondly, G. pulex may be an inherently more aggressive species than G. d. celticus during predatory interactions over guarded females. The first experiment indicated that differential predation was not mediated by species differences in the state of the female exoskeleton at the time of release from precopula by guarding males. The second experiment, however, showed that male G. pulex were significantly more aggressive than male G. d. celticus in attacking both guarding male congenerics and guarded moulted female congenerics. In addition, in defence against predatory attacks, paired male and female G. pulex were significantly more aggressive than paired male and female G. d. celticus. These differences in aggressive behaviour led to a significantly higher frequency of predation on G. d. celticus females than on G. pulex females, and also explains this finding in previous studies. It is concluded that differential predation due to differences in aggressive behaviour may explain the pattern of replacement between these species.
- Species replacements
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology