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The invasive predator Bythotrephes induces changes in the vertical distribution of native copepods in Lake Michigan

Bourdeau, Paul E., Pangle, Kevin L., Peacor, Scott D.
Biological invasions 2011 v.13 no.11 pp. 2533-2545
Bythotrephes, Copepoda, age structure, biological resistance, indigenous species, invasive species, nauplii, population density, population distribution, predation, predators, spatial variation, surveys, water, Lake Michigan
Invasive predators can have large negative effects on native prey populations. The susceptibility of native prey to invasive predators may depend on their ability to respond behaviorally to the presence of these non-native predators. In a field survey conducted in Lake Michigan over several years, we found that high densities of the invasive predatory cladoceran Bythotrephes were correlated with lower vertical distributions of some species and age classes of native copepods; moving from inhabiting primarily the epiliminion at low Bythotrephes density to primarily the hypolimnion at high Bythotrephes density. Five groups showed this pattern; diaptomid copepodites, adult cyclopoids, Diacyclops thomasi, and the adult diaptomids Leptodiaptomus ashlandi and L. minutus. In contrast, Bythotrephes density was not correlated with the vertical distribution of copepod nauplii and adult L. sicilis. Laboratory experiments suggest that the changes in the vertical distribution in the field at high Bythothrephes are due to an inducible, plastic response to predation threat from Bythotrephes signaled by water-borne cues. Species that were lower in the field at high Bythotrephes densities responded behaviorally to water-borne cues from Bythotrephes by moving to lower levels of experimental water columns. These species included D. thomasi and L. minutus, with L. ashlandi displaying a non-significant trend in the same direction. In contrast, L. sicilis, which was not correlated with Bythotrephes density in the field, was unaffected by the water-borne cues. Differences in vertical distribution shifts among these native copepod species and life-history stages are likely due to species-specific differences in spatial overlap with Bythotrephes and their relative ability to migrate large distances or employ alternative avoidance strategies. The varied responses exhibited among the copepod groups likely alter their interactions with each other, their resources and other predators, thus revealing the complex effects Bythotrephes can have on invaded communities.