Between-lake variation in the trophic ecology of an invasive crayfish
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1. The trophic ecology of invasive species has important implications for their impacts on recipient ecosystems, with omnivorous invaders potentially affecting native species and processes over multiple trophic levels. The trophic ecology of invaders might be affected by both their body size and the characteristics of their habitat due to variation in energy requirements and resource availability. 2. Here, using stable-isotope analysis, we investigated the trophic ecology of the invasive crayfish Procambarus clarkii in 15 populations in southwest France over a gradient of individual (crayfish body size), population (crayfish abundance) and ecosystem (lake size, productivity and predation pressure) characteristics. We predicted that population niche width, level of omnivory and trophic position of individuals would change with abiotic and biotic conditions, but that these relationships would vary with lake size. 3. The trophic position of individual crayfish increased with body size in lakes with low productivity, but decreased with body size in more productive lakes. As crayfish abundance increased (and therefore potential intraspecific competition), individual trophic position and population niche width decreased. This was most apparent in smaller lakes, suggesting it related to an increase in encounter rates with conspecifics. 4. Body size, population abundance, lake size and lake productivity influenced the trophic ecology of invasive crayfish, which can affect their interactions with native species. Our results demonstrated that the trophic ecology of invasive species can be variable across invaded landscapes, with implications for their ecological impacts on native communities. This emphasizes the importance of characterising the diet of invasive species across their non-native range and environmental gradients to better predict and manage their impacts.