Native and non-native plants provide similar refuge to invertebrate prey, but less than artificial plants

Bart Grutters, B.J.A. Pollux, W.C.E.P. Verberk, E.S. Bakker

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Abstract

Non-native species introductions are widespread and can affect ecosystem functioning by altering the structure of food webs. Invading plants often modify habitat structure, which may affect the suitability of vegetation as refuge and could thus impact predator-prey dynamics. Yet little is known about how the replacement of native by non-native vegetation affects predator-prey dynamics. We hypothesize that plant refuge provisioning depends on (1) the plant’s native status, (2) plant structural complexity and morphology, (3) predator identity, and (4) prey identity, as well as that (5) structurally similar living and artificial plants provide similar refuge. We used aquatic communities as a model system and compared the refuge provided by plants to macroinvertebrates (Daphnia pulex, Gammarus pulex and damselfly larvae) in three short-term laboratory predation experiments. Plant refuge provisioning differed between plant species, but was generally similar for native (Myriophyllum spicatum, Ceratophyllum demersum, Potamogeton perfoliatus) and non-native plants (Vallisneria spiralis, Myriophyllum heterophyllum, Cabomba caroliniana). However, plant refuge provisioning to macroinvertebrate prey depended primarily on predator (mirror carp: Cyprinus carpio carpio and dragonfly larvae: Anax imperator) and prey identity, while the effects of plant structural complexity were only minor. Contrary to living plants, artificial plant analogues did improve prey survival, particularly with increasing structural complexity and shoot density. As such, plant rigidity, which was high for artificial plants and one of the living plant species evaluated in this study (Ceratophyllum demersum), may interact with structural complexity to play a key role in refuge provisioning to specific prey (Gammarus pulex). Our results demonstrate that replacement of native by structurally similar non-native vegetation is unlikely to greatly affect predator-prey dynamics. We propose that modification of predator-prey interactions through plant invasions only occurs when invading plants radically differ in growth form, density and rigidity compared to native plants.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0124455
JournalPLoS One
Volume10
Issue number4
Early online date17 Apr 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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    Grutters, B. M. C. (Creator), Pollux, B. J. A. (Creator), Verberk, W. C. E. P. (Creator) & Bakker, (. E. S. (Creator), Dryad, 27 Apr 2015

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