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The role of direct chemical inhibition in the displacement of a native herbivore by an invasive congener

Abstract

The mechanisms causing native species displacement by invasive species can be challenging to identify. We used survey data to demonstrate a local extinction of a native gastropod (Pomacea paludosa) from a Florida wetland coincident with invasion of a non-native gastropod (Pomacea maculata). We then examined the potential for P. maculata to displace P. paludosa. Two field experiments examined effects of densities and heterospecific interactions on juvenile P. paludosa growth in situ and lab and mesocosm experiments explored chemically-mediated interactions between the species. Field experiments produced variable results; evidence for reduced P. paludosa growth in the presence of P. maculata was found under higher nutrient conditions with fast snail growth rates, but growth inhibition disappeared under oligotrophic conditions. Resource reduction was not seen in the field experiments. Juvenile P. paludosa did not avoid mucus of P. maculata and did not reduce feeding in response to chemical cues. Nevertheless, exposure to mucus and waterborne cues of P. maculata reduced P. paludosa growth by 53% relative to conspecific cue exposure. In mesocosms juvenile P. paludosa growth was significantly negatively correlated with exposure to adult P. maculata waterborne cues. Stronger effects were evident when waterborne cues were combined with mucus at low exposure (20%). We documented the first apparent local extinction of P. paludosa by P. maculata. We found no evidence for competition, but the results collectively pointed to an effect of direct chemical inhibition that could be important at field scales and at low invasive densities.

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Availability of data and material

The data that support the findings of this study are available on request from the corresponding author, DKD.

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Acknowledgements

We especially thank E. Cline for his management of the study wetlands and J. Sommer for his tireless help collecting data in the field and setting up experiments. T. Cocoves, A. LaGala, and B. McKenna also provided help with the experiments in the field. All experimental P. maculata were destroyed or remained captive at FAU upon termination of the study. Two anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. The work was supported by a contract between South Florida Water Management District and FAU (#9500007911 to NJD). Metaphyton samples were processed for phosphorus at the Freshwater Resources Division at Florida International University (Miami, FL). This is contribution #1374 of the Freshwater Resources Division of the Institute of Environment at Florida International University.

Funding

This work was supported by the South Florida Water Management District.

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DKD, NJD and MIC conceived the studies. DKD carried out the experiments and analyzed the data with guidance from NJD. DKD and NJD wrote the manuscript with editorial feedback from MIC.

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Correspondence to Danielle K. Drumheller.

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The authors have no competing interests.

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No custom code was used in this study. Code is available on request from the corresponding author, DKD.

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Drumheller, D.K., Cook, M.I. & Dorn, N.J. The role of direct chemical inhibition in the displacement of a native herbivore by an invasive congener. Biol Invasions 24, 1739–1753 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-022-02752-3

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Keywords

  • Chemical cues
  • Pomacea
  • Invasion
  • Displacement
  • Growth