Biogeographic differences between native and non-native populations of crayfish alter species coexistence and trophic interactions in mesocosms

Abstract

Biogeographical comparisons of native and non-native populations allow researchers to understand the degree to which traits contributing to invasion success are intrinsic or change during the invasion process. Here, we investigate whether traits underlying interspecific competition change following invasion and whether these alter the impacts of two crayfish congeners that have invaded into each other’s native ranges. Specifically, we compared native and non-native populations of rusty (Faxonius rusticus) and virile crayfish (F. virilis). We compared native and non-native populations of each species using laboratory assays to examine aggression and large mesocosms with the congeners in sympatry to examine growth and survival as well as impacts on lower trophic levels. We found that non-native virile crayfish were more aggressive in response to a threat than native virile crayfish and exhibited greater growth and survival in sympatry with rusty crayfish. These intraspecific differences were large enough to alter coexistence between species in the mesocosm experiment, which is consistent with patterns of coexistence between these species in the field. We did not observe differences in traits between native and non-native rusty crayfish, but rusty crayfish were consistently competitively dominant over virile crayfish in paired laboratory assays. Non-native populations of both species had greater impacts on lower trophic levels than native populations. Taken together, these findings provide new evidence that trait changes during invasions may enhance ecological impacts of invasive animals and their ability to compete with closely related native species.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the 2016 Central Michigan University (CMU) Great Lakes Summer Research Program students, students in the Pintor Lab at The Ohio State University (OSU), the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Trout Lake Station Staff, Ying Guy and Rongyi Zhu for help with crayfish collection and husbandry, the CMU Biological Station staff for assistance with mesocosm setup and maintenance, Ray Clark of CMU for assistance with fabrication of experimental equipment, and two anonymous reviewers for their help in preparing this manuscript for publication. Funding provided to LMP and MGG by OSU’s School of Environment and Natural Resources and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and to LSR by CMU’s Institute for Great Lakes Research. This is contribution 100 of the Central Michigan University Institute for Great Lakes Research.

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Glon, M.G., Reisinger, L.S. & Pintor, L.M. Biogeographic differences between native and non-native populations of crayfish alter species coexistence and trophic interactions in mesocosms. Biol Invasions 20, 3475–3490 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-018-1788-y

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Keywords

  • Invasive species
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Evolution
  • Interspecific competition
  • Ecological impacts
  • Behavior