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River-specific effects of the invasive amphipod Dikerogammarus villosus (Crustacea: Amphipoda) on benthic communities
Hellmann, C.; Schöll, F.; Worischka, S.; Becker, J.; Winkelmann, C. (2016). River-specific effects of the invasive amphipod Dikerogammarus villosus (Crustacea: Amphipoda) on benthic communities. Biological Invasions 19(1): 381-398. https://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10530-016-1286-z
In: Biological Invasions. Springer: London. ISSN 1387-3547; e-ISSN 1573-1464, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Dikerogammarus villosus (Sowinsky, 1894) [WoRMS]
Author keywords
    Invasion; German rivers; Benthic monitoring; River Rhine; River Elbe

Authors  Top 
  • Hellmann, C.
  • Schöll, F.
  • Worischka, S.
  • Becker, J.
  • Winkelmann, C.

Abstract
    The invasive amphipod Dikerogammarus villosus is assumed to threaten native biodiversity in rivers. In spite of small-scale experiments and field observations, its impact on natural communities is largely unknown because it seems to be variable and long-term analyses are rare. We analysed long-term data from the Upper Elbe and Middle Rhine (Germany) for invasion patterns and changes in the community structure. In addition, mesocosm experiments were performed in both rivers to identify density effects of D. villosus on the communities. We assumed that D. villosus is a driver of changes in the macroinvertebrate community and that effects are river-specific due to differing benthic communities. We found two invasion patterns for D. villosus with fast invasion in the River Elbe and slower invasion in the River Rhine. The impact of D. villosus on the species composition was weak in both river communities. Invasion seems to have reduced taxa number and individuals and increased Shannon diversity in the River Rhine, but not in the River Elbe. The correlations between the densities of the invader and other taxa in the long-term data were mostly positive with the exception of two native taxa in the River Rhine, indicating a lack of strong negative species interactions. Also in the mesocosm experiments, the biomass gradient of D. villosus adults did not cause significant changes in the communities. The community in the River Rhine seemed to be more vulnerable to the D. villosus invasion than that in the River Elbe. This might be caused by a dominance of invasive species interacting positively with one another, as suggested by the ‘invasional meltdown’ theory. The study suggests that community-level effects of invasion may differ between rivers, probably due to differences in the community composition.

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