, Volume 159, Issue 1, pp 161–170 | Cite as

Interactions among invaders: community and ecosystem effects of multiple invasive species in an experimental aquatic system

  • Pieter T. J. Johnson
  • Julian D. Olden
  • Christopher T. Solomon
  • M. Jake Vander Zanden
Community Ecology - Original Paper


With ecosystems increasingly supporting multiple invasive species, interactions among invaders could magnify or ameliorate the undesired consequences for native communities and ecosystems. We evaluated the individual and combined effects of rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) and Chinese mystery snails [Bellamya (=Cipangopaludina) chinensis] on native snail communities (Physa, Helisoma and Lymnaea sp.) and ecosystem attributes (algal chlorophyll a and nutrient concentrations). Both invaders are widespread in the USA and commonly co-occur within northern temperate lakes, underscoring the importance of understanding their singular and joint effects. An outdoor mesocosm experiment revealed that while the two invaders had only weakly negative effects upon one another, both negatively affected the abundance and biomass of native snails, and their combined presence drove one native species to extinction and reduced a second by >95%. Owing to its larger size and thicker shell, adult Bellamya were protected from crayfish attack relative to native species (especially Physa and Lymnaea), suggesting the co-occurrence of these invaders in nature could have elevated consequences for native communities. The per capita impacts of Orconectes (a snail predator) on native snails were substantially greater than those of Bellamya (a snail competitor). Crayfish predation also had a cascading effect by reducing native snail biomass, leading to increased periphyton growth. Bellamya, in contrast, reduced periphyton biomass, likely causing a reduction in growth by native lymnaeid snails. Bellamya also increased water column N:P ratio, possibly because of a low P excretion rate relative to native snail species. Together, these findings highlight the importance of understanding interactions among invasive species, which can have significant community- and ecosystem-level effects.


Biological invasion Multiple invaders Bellamya Orconectes Ecosystem change 



We acknowledge K. Langree, E. Vennie, N. Hayes, and Z. Shattuck for assistance collecting data. T. Kratz, E. Stanley, J. Thoyre, and M. Lochner provided logistical support. L. Winn facilitated access to land while the WDNR Forestry Fire division filled mesocosms with water. We thank L. Herman, R. Martin, T. Asplund, D. Olson, and J. Filbert for providing invader distributional data along with the following agencies: WDNR, MI Department of Environmental Quality, the North-Temperate Lakes Long-Term Ecological Research, and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. R. Dillon identified snail species used in the experiment. For funding support, we thank the Juday Family Fellowship, the Anna Grant Birge Fund, and NSF awards DEB-0411760 and the North-Temperate Lakes Long-Term Ecological Research program (DEB-0217533). Experiments were in compliance with the current laws of the USA.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pieter T. J. Johnson
    • 1
  • Julian D. Olden
    • 2
  • Christopher T. Solomon
    • 3
  • M. Jake Vander Zanden
    • 3
  1. 1.Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  2. 2.School of Aquatic and Fishery SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Center for LimnologyUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA

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