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Dispersal syndromes can impact ecosystem functioning in spatially structured freshwater populations


Little, Chelsea J; Fronhofer, Emanuel A; Altermatt, Florian (2019). Dispersal syndromes can impact ecosystem functioning in spatially structured freshwater populations. Biology Letters, 15(3):online.

Abstract

Dispersal can strongly influence ecological and evolutionary dynamics. Besides the direct contribution of dispersal to population dynamics, dispersers often differ in their phenotypic attributes from non-dispersers, which leads to dispersal syndromes. The consequences of such dispersal syndromes have been widely explored at the population and community level; however, to date, ecosystem-level effects remain unclear. Here, we examine whether dispersing and resident individuals of two different aquatic keystone invertebrate species have different contributions to detrital processing, a key function in freshwater ecosystems. Using experimental two-patch systems, we found no difference in leaf consumption rates with dispersal status of the common native species Gammarus fossarum. In Dikerogammarus villosus, however, a Ponto-Caspian species now expanding throughout Europe, dispersers consumed leaf litter at roughly three times the rate of non-dispersers. Furthermore, this put the contribution of dispersing D. villosus to leaf litter processing on par with native G. fossarum, after adjusting for differences in organismal size. Given that leaf litter decomposition is a key function in aquatic ecosystems, and the rapid species turnover in freshwater habitats with range expansions of non-native species, this finding suggests that dispersal syndromes may have important consequences for ecosystem functioning.

Abstract

Dispersal can strongly influence ecological and evolutionary dynamics. Besides the direct contribution of dispersal to population dynamics, dispersers often differ in their phenotypic attributes from non-dispersers, which leads to dispersal syndromes. The consequences of such dispersal syndromes have been widely explored at the population and community level; however, to date, ecosystem-level effects remain unclear. Here, we examine whether dispersing and resident individuals of two different aquatic keystone invertebrate species have different contributions to detrital processing, a key function in freshwater ecosystems. Using experimental two-patch systems, we found no difference in leaf consumption rates with dispersal status of the common native species Gammarus fossarum. In Dikerogammarus villosus, however, a Ponto-Caspian species now expanding throughout Europe, dispersers consumed leaf litter at roughly three times the rate of non-dispersers. Furthermore, this put the contribution of dispersing D. villosus to leaf litter processing on par with native G. fossarum, after adjusting for differences in organismal size. Given that leaf litter decomposition is a key function in aquatic ecosystems, and the rapid species turnover in freshwater habitats with range expansions of non-native species, this finding suggests that dispersal syndromes may have important consequences for ecosystem functioning.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:amphipods, decomposition, leaf litter, metapopulation, meta-ecosystem, non-random dispersal
Language:English
Date:6 March 2019
Deposited On:31 Jul 2019 10:10
Last Modified:25 Sep 2019 00:38
Publisher:Royal Society Publishing
ISSN:1744-9561
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2018.0865
Official URL:https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsbl.2018.0865
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