Forecasting invasions: resource use by mussels informs invasion patterns along the South African coast
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Invasive species are often more able to rapidly and efficiently utilise resources than natives, and comparing per capita resource use at different resource densities among invaders and trophically analogous natives could allow for reliable predictions of invasiveness. In South Africa, invasion by the Mediterranean mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis has transformed wave-exposed shores, negatively affecting native mussel species. Currently, South Africa is experiencing a second mussel invasion with the recent detection of the South American Semimytilus algosus. We tested per capita uptake of an algal resource by invading M. galloprovincialis, S. algosus, and the native Aulacomya atra at different algal concentrations and temperatures, representing the west and south coasts of South Africa, to examine whether their per capita resource use could be a predictor of their spread and subsequent invasiveness. Regardless of temperature, M. galloprovincialis was the most efficient consumer, significantly reducing algal cells compared to the other species when the resource was presented in both low and high starting densities. Furthermore, these findings aligned with a greater biomass of M. galloprovincialis on the shore in comparison with the other species. Resource use by the new invader S. algosus was dependent on the density of resource and, although this species was efficient at low algal concentrations at cooler temperatures, this pattern broke down at higher algal densities. This was once more reflected in lower biomass in surveys of this species along the cool west coast. We therefore forecast that S. algosus will be become established along the south coast; however, we also predict that M. galloprovincialis will maintain dominance on these shores.