Predators vs. alien: differential biotic resistance to an invasive species by two resident predators
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The success of invading species can be restricted by interspecific interactions such as competition and predation (i.e. biotic resistance) from resident species, which may be natives or previous invaders. Whilst there are myriad examples of resident species preying on invaders, simply showing that such an interaction exists does not demonstrate that predation limits invader establishment, abundance or spread. Support for this conclusion requires evidence of negative associations between invaders and resident predators in the field and, further, that the predator-prey interaction is likely to strongly regulate or potentially de-stabilise the introduced prey population. Moreover, it must be considered that different resident predator species may have different abilities to restrict invaders. In this study, we show from analysis of field data that two European predatory freshwater amphipods, Gammarus pulex and G. duebeni celticus, have strong negative field associations with their prey, the invasive North American amphipod Crangonyx pseudogracilis. This negative field association is significantly stronger with G. pulex, a previous and now resident invader in the study sites, than with the native G. d. celticus. These field patterns were consistent with our experimental findings that both resident predators display potentially population de-stabilising Type II functional responses towards the invasive prey, with a significantly greater magnitude of response exhibited by G. pulex than by G. d. celticus. Further, these Type II functional responses were consistent across homo- and heterogeneous environments, contrary to the expectation that heterogeneity facilitates more stabilising Type III functional responses through the provision of prey refugia. Our experimental approach confirms correlative field surveys and thus supports the hypothesis that resident predatory invertebrates are differentially limiting the distribution and abundance of an introduced invertebrate. We discuss how the comparative functional response approach not only enhances understanding of the success or failure of invasions in the face of various resident predators, but potentially also allows prediction of population- and community-level outcomes of species introductions.