Effects of crayfish on leaf litter breakdown and shredder prey: are native and introduced species functionally redundant?
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Recent increases in biological invasions frequency may have important consequences on native communities. However, functional redundancy between invasive and native species could reduce non-native species effects on native ecosystems. Despite this, even small differences in functional traits between these species may still have unpredictable effects on colonized ecosystems. Invasive crayfish, as ecosystem engineers, potentially have wide and complex effects on recipient ecosystems, even when replacing a native counterpart. We used laboratory microcosms to test whether native (Astacus astacus) and invasive crayfish species (Orconectes limosus, Pacifastacus leniusculus and Procambarus clarkii) are actually functionally redundant in their effects on prey/shredder density and leaf litter breakdown. Results show that crayfish strongly influenced macroinvertebrate numbers and leaf litter breakdown and indicate that differences in direct (prey and leaf litter consumption) and indirect (prey habitat use and leaf litter breakdown) effects between crayfish species do exist. While the replacement of A. astacus by O. limosus may have induced only minor changes in freshwater ecosystems, invasions by the larger and more aggressive P. clarkii and P. leniusculus will likely have strong effects on invaded ecosystem. Overall, there seems to be no functional redundancy between these four species and outcomes of crayfish invasion will likely be species specific.
KeywordsAstacus astacus Invasive species Pacifastacus leniusculus Orconectes limosus Procambarus clarkii Functional redundancy
C. Lagrue was funded by a post-doctoral grant from the regional council of Burgundy. We thank S. Motreuil for help during experiments, A. Güvenatam and J. Turlin for comments on the manuscript and F.-X. Dechaume-Montcharmont and M. Gilingham for statistical advices.
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