, Volume 169, Issue 1, pp 105-115
Date: 15 Nov 2011

Behavioral plasticity in an invaded system: non-native whelks recognize risk from native crabs

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Abstract

Inducible defenses have the potential to affect both invasion success and the structure of invaded communities. However, little is known about the cues used for risk-recognition that influence the expression of inducible defenses in invasive prey, because they involve a novel threat. In laboratory experiments, we investigated behavioral defenses induced by a native crab on two invasive oyster drills (marine whelks Urosalpinx cinerea and Ocinebrina inornata). Both drills hid more often and reduced their feeding rates when they detected predators consuming conspecific prey. Examination of the responses of U. cinerea to specific cue sources (predator kairomones, conspecific alarm cues) indicated that this species had the strongest responses to cues from injured conspecifics, but that it did recognize the novel crab predator. Our observation of native predator (per se) recognition by an invasive marine prey is novel. In addition, we observed that neither species of drill reduced their defensive behavior to reflect predation risk shared by a group of prey. The lack of density dependence in risk-assessment could cause populations of invasive prey to transmit both quantitatively and qualitatively different community effects over the course of an invasion as abundance changes. Together, these findings demonstrate several ways that the risk-assessment strategies could be important in establishment and post-establishment dynamics of invasive prey.

Communicated by Geoffrey Trussell.