Deep impact: In situ functional responses reveal context-dependent interactions between vertically migrating invasive and native mesopredators and shared prey

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Freshwater Biology





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1. The ecological effects of invasive species depend on myriad environmental contexts, rendering understanding problematic. Functional responses provide a means to quantify resource use by consumers over short timescales and could therefore provide insight into how the effects of invasive species vary over space and time. Here, we use novel in situ microcosm experiments to track changes in the functional responses of two aquatic mesopredators, one native and the other an invader, as they undergo diel vertical migrations through a lake water column. 2. The Ponto-Caspian mysid, Hemimysis anomala, a known ecologically damaging invader, generally had higher a functional response towards cladoceran prey than did a native trophic analogue, Mysis salemaai. However, this differential was spatiotemporally dependent, being minimal during the day on the lake bottom, and increasing at night, particularly inshore. 3. Because the functional response of the native predator was spatiotemporally consistent, the above pattern was driven by changes in the invader functional response over the diel cycle. In particular, the functional response of H. anomala was significantly reduced on the lake bottom during the daytime relative to night, and predation was especially pronounced in shallow surface waters. 4. We demonstrate the context dependency of the effects of an invasive predator on prey populations and emphasise the utility of functional responses as tools to inform our understanding of predator-prey interactions. In situ manipulations integrate experimental rigour with field relevance and have the potential to reveal how impacts manifest over a range of spatiotemporal scales. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.