Your worst enemy could be your best friend: predator contributions to invasion resistance and persistence of natives
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Native predators are postulated to have an important role in biotic resistance of communities to invasion and community resilience. Effects of predators can be complex, and mechanisms by which predators affect invasion success and impact are understood for only a few well-studied communities. We tested experimentally whether a native predator limits an invasive species’ success and impact on a native competitor for a community of aquatic insect larvae in water-filled containers. The native mosquito Aedes triseriatus alone had no significant effect on abundance of the invasive mosquito Aedes albopictus. The native predatory midge Corethrella appendiculata, at low or high density, significantly reduced A. albopictus abundance. This effect was not caused by trait-mediated oviposition avoidance of containers with predators, but instead was a density-mediated effect caused by predator-induced mortality. The presence of this predator significantly reduced survivorship of the native species, but high predator density also significantly increased development rate of the native species when the invader was present, consistent with predator-mediated release from interspecific competition with the invader. Thus, a native predator can indirectly benefit its native prey when a superior competitor invades. This shows the importance of native predators as a component of biodiversity for both biotic resistance to invasion and resilience of a community perturbed by successful invasion.
KeywordsDensity-mediated effects Invasive species Keystone predator Mosquitoes Trait-mediated behavioral effects
We thank R. Escher for his extensive efforts rearing A. triseriatus and C. appendiculata, and for other assistance in the laboratory, M. Reiskind, B. Kesavaraju, K. Smith, and J. Chase for informative discussion, and two anonymous referees for helpful comments. This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (R01-AI44793). Experiments comply with the current laws of the US.
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