Invasional meltdown: an experimental test and a framework to distinguish synergistic, additive, and antagonistic effects
The potential role of positive interactions among co-invaders is at the core of the invasional meltdown hypothesis. The interaction of non-native species could result in an exacerbation of each other’s effects. Thus, the resulting effect of multiple non-native species on ecosystems can be greater than the sum of their individual effects. We designed an analytical framework and a set of mesocosm experiments to assess the potential synergistic effects of three non-native species (Limnoperna fortunei, Astronotus crassipinnis, and Hydrilla verticillata) in a highly invaded floodplain in southern Brazil. We analyzed ecosystem, community, and population attributes in scenarios with non-natives. Our hypothesis of a synergistic effect was not supported. Even though effects of the invasive species were detected for all ecological levels, evidence indicated that these effects were additive. In addition to adding to the statement that origin (i.e., native vs. non-native status) does matter, we provide a tool to differentiate additive, synergistic, and antagonistic effects in situations with multiple invasions, and experimentally demonstrate additive effects of non-native species at different ecological levels.
KeywordsEcological impact Multiplicative impacts Invasive mutualism Interactive impact
This research was partially supported by CAPES (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior), an Organ of the Brazilian Government for training of human resources. CAPES provided scholarships to R.R. Braga, V. M. Ribeiro, I. P. Affonso, J. Wojciechowski, L. G.S. Ribas, and V. Tiburcio. E. R. Cunha was supported by Grant of the Parque tecnológico ITAIPU. J. R. S. Vitule, A. A. Padial, and S. M. Thomaz acknowledge the Brazilian Council of Research (CNPq) for Research Grants associated with several scientific projects. We would also like to thank R. D. Zenni, M. S. Dechoum, K. M. Campião, L. C. Gomes, and V. Abilhoa for helpful suggestions on the manuscript. We thank James A. Nienow for providing English writing revision. Field work would not be possible without the support of F. A. Frehse, V. S. Daga, S. Pereto, E. Silva, F. Ceschin, P. Dall’ Agnol, S. Rodrigues, A. S. Silva, and V. F. Souza, therefore we are thankful.
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