Browsing by Author "Alexander, Mhairi E."
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- ItemEvaluating invasion risk for freshwater fishes in South Africa(AOSIS Publishing, 2017) Marr, Sean M.; Ellender, Bruce R.; Woodford, Darragh J.; Alexander, Mhairi E.; Wasserman, Ryan J.; Ivey, Philip; Zengeya, Tsungai; Weyl, Olaf L. F.Background: South Africa, as a signatory of the Convention on Biological Diversity, has an obligation to identify, prioritise and manage invasive species and their introduction pathways. However, this requires knowledge of the introduction pathways, factors influencing establishment success, invasive potential, current distributions and ecological impacts. Objectives: To evaluate the Fish Invasiveness Screening Kit (FISK) to predict the invasion risk posed by fish species proposed for introduction into South Africa. Method: FISK assessments were compiled for species whose invasion status in South Africa was known. A Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was conducted to calibrate the FISK for South Africa. The calibrated FISK was used to evaluate the risk that three species recently proposed for importation for aquaculture could become invasive in South Africa. Results: A FISK score of 14 was identified as the threshold to delineate between species that could become invasive in South Africa and those that are unlikely to become invasive. Of the three species evaluated, Silurus glanis had a high risk of becoming invasive in South Africa, Lates calcarifer was likely to be invasive and Oncorhynchus tshawytscha was unlikely to be invasive in South Africa. Conclusion: FISK was demonstrated to be a useful risk assessment tool to evaluate the invasion risk posed by species proposed for use in aquaculture. For the large number of fish imported for the pet trade, a rapid screening assessment to flag potentially high risk species was recommended prior to a full FISK assessment for flagged species.
- ItemFunctional responses of a cosmopolitan invader demonstrate intraspecific variability in consumer-resource dynamics(PeerJ, 2018) Howard, Brett R.; Barrios-O'Neill, Daniel; Alexander, Mhairi E.; Dick, Jaimie T. A.; Therriault, Thomas W.; Robinson, Tamara B.; Cote, Isabelle M.Background. Variability in the ecological impacts of invasive species across their geographical ranges may decrease the accuracy of risk assessments. Comparative functional response analysis can be used to estimate invasive consumer-resource dynamics, explain impact variability, and thus potentially inform impact predictions. The European green crab (Carcinus maenas) has been introduced on multiple continents beyond its native range, although its ecological impacts appear to vary among populations and regions. Our aim was to test whether consumer-resource dynamics under standardized conditions are similarly variable across the current geographic distribution of green crab, and to identify correlated morphological features. Methods. Crabs were collected from multiple populations within both native (Northern Ireland) and invasive regions (South Africa and Canada). Their functional responses to local mussels (Mytilus spp.) were tested. Attack rates and handling times were compared among green crab populations within each region, and among regions (Pacific Canada, Atlantic Canada, South Africa, and Northern Ireland). The effect of predator and prey morphology on prey consumption was investigated. Results. Across regions, green crabs consumed prey according to a Type II (hyperbolic) functional response curve. Attack rates (i.e., the rate at which a predator finds and attacks prey), handling times and maximum feeding rates differed among regions. There was a trend toward higher attack rates in invasive than in native populations. Green crabs from Canada had lower handling times and thus higher maximum feeding rates than those from South Africa and Northern Ireland. Canadian and Northern Ireland crabs had significantly larger claws than South African crabs. Claw size was a more important predictor of the proportion of mussels killed than prey shell strength. Discussion. The differences in functional response between regions reflect observed impacts of green crabs in the wild. This suggests that an understanding of consumer resource dynamics (e.g., the per capita measure of predation), derived from simple, standardized experiments, might yield useful predictions of invader impacts across geographical ranges.
- ItemPredator cue studies reveal strong trait-mediated effects in communities despite variation in experimental designs(Elsevier, 2013-12) Paterson, Rachel A.; Pritchard, Daniel W.; Dick, Jaimie T. A.; Alexander, Mhairi E.; Hatcher, Melanie J.; Dunn, Alison M.Nonconsumptive or trait-mediated effects of predators on their prey often outweigh density-mediated interactions where predators consume prey. For instance, predator presence can alter prey behaviour, physiology, morphology and/or development. Despite a burgeoning literature, our ability to identify general patterns in prey behavioural responses may be influenced by the inconsistent methodologies of predator cue experiments used to assess trait-mediated effects. We therefore conducted a meta-analysis to highlight variables (e.g. water type, predator husbandry, exposure time) that may influence invertebrate prey’s behavioural responses to fish predator cues. This revealed that changes in prey activity and refuge use were remarkably consistent overall, despite wide differences in experimental methodologies. Our meta-analysis shows that invertebrates altered their behaviour to predator cues of both fish that were fed the focal invertebrate and those that were fed other prey types, which suggests that invertebrates were not responding to specific diet information in the fish cues. Invertebrates also altered their behaviour regardless of predator cue addition regimes and fish satiation levels. Cue intensity and exposure time did not have significant effects on invertebrate behaviour. We also highlight that potentially confounding factors, such as parasitism, were rarely recorded in sufficient detail to assess the magnitude of their effects. By examining the likelihood of detecting trait-mediated effects under large variations in experimental design, our study demonstrates that trait-mediated effects are likely to have pervasive and powerful influences in nature.
- ItemPredators vs. alien : differential biotic resistance to an invasive species by two resident predators(Pensoft, 2013-10-11) MacNeil, Calum; Dick, Jaimie T. A.; Alexander, Mhairi E.; Dodd, Jennifer A.; Ricciardi, AnthonyThe success of invading species can be restricted by interspecific interactions such as competition and predation (i.e. biotic resistance) from resident species, which may be natives or previous invaders. Whilst there are myriad examples of resident species preying on invaders, simply showing that such an interaction exists does not demonstrate that predation limits invader establishment, abundance or spread. Support for this conclusion requires evidence of negative associations between invaders and resident predators in the field and, further, that the predator-prey interaction is likely to strongly regulate or potentially de-stabilise the introduced prey population. Moreover, it must be considered that different resident predator species may have different abilities to restrict invaders. In this study, we show from analysis of field data that two European predatory freshwater amphipods, Gammarus pulex and G. duebeni celticus, have strong negative field associations with their prey, the invasive North American amphipod Crangonyx pseudogracilis. This negative field association is significantly stronger with G. pulex, a previous and now resident invader in the study sites, than with the native G. d. celticus. These field patterns were consistent with our experimental findings that both resident predators display potentially population de-stabilising Type II functional responses towards the invasive prey, with a significantly greater magnitude of response exhibited by G. pulex than by G. d. celticus. Further, these Type II functional responses were consistent across homo- and heterogeneous environments, contrary to the expectation that heterogeneity facilitates more stabilising Type III functional responses through the provision of prey refugia. Our experimental approach confirms correlative field surveys and thus supports the hypothesis that resident predatory invertebrates are differentially limiting the distribution and abundance of an introduced invertebrate. We discuss how the comparative functional response approach not only enhances understanding of the success or failure of invasions in the face of various resident predators, but potentially also allows prediction of population- and community-level outcomes of species introductions.
- ItemSize-dependent functional response of Xenopus laevis feeding on mosquito larvae(PeerJ, 2018-10-26) Thorp, Corey J.; Alexander, Mhairi E.; Vonesh, James R.; Measey, John; Kramer, DonaldPredators can play an important role in regulating prey abundance and diversity, determining food web structure and function, and contributing to important ecosystem services, including the regulation of agricultural pests and disease vectors. Thus, the ability to predict predator impact on prey is an important goal in ecology. Often, predators of the same species are assumed to be functionally equivalent, despite considerable individual variation in predator traits known to be important for shaping predator–prey interactions, like body size. This assumption may greatly oversimplify our understanding of within-species functional diversity and undermine our ability to predict predator effects on prey. Here, we examine the degree to which predator–prey interactions are functionally homogenous across a natural range of predator body sizes. Specifically, we quantify the size-dependence of the functional response of African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis) preying on mosquito larvae (Culex pipiens). Three size classes of predators, small (15–30 mm snout-vent length), medium (50–60 mm) and large (105–120 mm), were presented with five densities of prey to determine functional response type and to estimate search efficiency and handling time parameters generated from the models. The results of mesocosm experiments showed that type of functional response of X. laevis changed with size: small predators exhibited a Type II response, while medium and large predators exhibited Type III responses. Functional response data showed an inversely proportional relationship between predator attack rate and predator size. Small and medium predators had highest and lowest handling time, respectively. The change in functional response with the size of predator suggests that predators with overlapping cohorts may have a dynamic impact on prey populations. Therefore, predicting the functional response of a single size-matched predator in an experiment may misrepresent the predator’s potential impact on a prey population.