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Keep calm and don't stop growing: Non-consumptive effects of a sympatric predator on two invasive Ponto-Caspian gammarids Dikerogammarus villosus and Pontogammarus robustoides.

ABSTRACT: Predators shape prey populations by elimination of individuals (consumptive effects) and by inducing modifications in prey behaviour, physiology or morphology (NCE-non-consumptive effects). Due to the resource allocation to defence, decreased feeding and higher stress, the costs of predator NCEs can be considerable. Therefore, the resistance to NCEs may be crucial for population growth and interspecific competition. We tested the resistance of Ponto-Caspian gammarids Dikerogammarus villosus and Pontogammarus robustoides to NCEs imposed by their predator, the racer goby Babka gymnotrachelus. As D. villosus is often avoided by predators in the presence of alternative food, we hypothesised that it would bear lower behavioural and physiological costs of anti-predator responses. We tested gammarid feeding in short-time experiments (2-4 h) with food (chironomid larvae) located at various distances from the stony shelter (to enforce food searching, Experiment I) or in the direct gammarid proximity (no searching needed, Experiment II). Moreover, we checked the predator effect on gammarid growth in a 2-week Experiment III. Both gammarids exposed to predators reduced feeding efficiency outside the shelter (Experiment I). Contrary to our expectations, the response of D. villosus was stronger. When food was provided in their direct proximity (Experiment II), the feeding of both species was unaffected by predators, indicating that a shelter supplied with food can reduce predator NCEs. The growth of P. robustoides was reduced in the presence of predators (Experiment III), whereas that of D. villosus was unaffected. Although D. villosus has a more effective defence strategy than P. robustoides, it bears similar or even higher behavioural costs of NCEs. However, it exhibits the higher resistance to the long-term predator presence, sustaining its growth rate under such conditions. This may be one of the factors contributing to the great invasion success of D. villosus, currently taking place in European fresh waters.


PROVIDER: S-EPMC5542608 | BioStudies | 2017-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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