Response of a native, herbivorous snail to the introduced seaweed Sargassum muticum
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The role of native consumers in mediating biological invasions is poorly understood. In theory, there are reasons to expect both strong and weak effects of native consumers on non-native species. However, non-native ranges may include multiple regions or even continents, each with its own suite of consumers and invader–consumer interactions may play out differently in different places and times. In this Washington State (USA) study we found that the common herbivorous snail Lacuna vincta was 2–9 times more abundant on the non-native seaweed Sargassum muticum, compared to native kelps. Choice feeding trials with fresh tissue and artificial foods both suggest that S. muticum is a preferred food for Lacuna vincta. Lab experiments indicated that L. vincta did not experience diminished predation by two common predators on Sargassum muticum compared to native kelp hosts. Our results suggest that Sargassum experiences considerable herbivory by Lacuna vincta in our study region, a conclusion that is consistent with previous work and our own field observations. In our system, L. vincta and S. muticum have been coexisting in the same habitats for at least 50 years and available data suggest that it acquired a preference for S. muticum more than 30 years after the initial invasion. Comparison of our results to recent work on Sargassum–herbivore interactions in Europe suggests that the response of native consumer communities to S. muticum varies both within and among regions. Geographic and temporal variation in the response of native consumers are likely to be hallmarks of many large-scale invasions.
KeywordsEnemy release Biotic resistance Sargassum muticum Lacuna vincta Biological invasion
For helpful discussions about this work we thank E. Iyengar, B. Podolsky, D. Padilla, K. Roy, E. Parnell, J. Burnaford, and V. Thompsen. Thanks to C. Button for assistance in the field. Comments from two anonymous reviewers greatly improved the manuscript. Funding for this research came from the SeaDoc Foundation and The University of Chicago Hinds Fund. Friday Harbor Laboratories provided laboratory, boat and SCUBA facilities. I.S. was funded by a FICYT predoctoral fellowship from the Asturias Regional Government and by the ALIENS project (EVK3-CT2001-00062) of the European Union. K.B.S. was supported by a Department of Education GAANN fellowship during part of this study.
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