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Invasions of non-native species are modifying global biodiversity but the ecological mechanisms underlying invasion processes are still not well understood. A degree of niche separation of non-native and sympatric native species can possibly explain the success of novel species in their new environment. In this study, we quantified experimentally and in situ the environmental niche space of caridean shrimps (native Crangon crangon and Palaemon adspersus, non-native Palaemon elegans) inhabiting the northern Baltic Sea. Field studies showed that the non-native P. elegans had wider geographical range compared to native species although the level of habitat specialization was similar in both Palaemon species. There were clear differences in shrimp habitat occupancy with P. elegans inhabiting lower salinity areas and more eutrophicated habitats compared to the native species. Consequently, the non-native shrimp has occupied large areas of the northern Baltic Sea that were previously devoid of the native shrimps. Experiments demonstrated that the non-native shrimp had higher affinity to vegetated substrates compared to native species. The study suggests that the abilities of the non-native shrimp to thrive in more stressful habitats (lower salinity, higher eutrophication), that are sub-optimal for native shrimps, plausibly explain the invasion success of P. elegans.
Aquatic Ecology – Springer Journals
Published: May 18, 2017
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