MEPS 291:151-158 (2005)  -  doi:10.3354/meps291151

Predatory nature of the littoral amphipod Echinogammarus marinus: gut content analysis and effects of alternative food and substrate heterogeneity

Jaimie T. A. Dick*, Mark P. Johnson, Susan McCambridge, Jamie Johnson, Victoria E. E. Carson, David W. Kelly, Calum MacNeil

School of Biology & Biochemistry, Medical Biology Centre, Queen’s University Belfast, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 7BL, Northern Ireland, UK

ABSTRACT: Interspecific interactions are major structuring forces in marine littoral communities; however, it is unclear which of these interactions are exhibited by many key-component species. Gut content analysis showed that the ubiquitous rocky/cobble shore amphipod Echinogammarus marinus, often ascribed as a mesograzer, consumes both algae and macroinvertebrates. Further, laboratory experiments showed that E. marinus is an active predator of such macroinvertebrates, killing and consuming the isopod Jaera nordmanni and the oligochaete Tubificoides benedii. Predatory impacts of E. marinus were not alleviated by the presence of alternative food in the form of alga discs. However, in the presence of prey, consumption of alga by E. marinus was significantly reduced. Further, survival of prey was significantly higher when substrate was provided, but predation remained significant and did not decline with further increases in substrate heterogeneity. We conclude that such amphipods can have pervasive predatory impacts on a range of species, with implications for community structure, diversity and functioning.


KEY WORDS: Littoral communities · Predation · Gut content · Amphipods · Heterogeneity · Echinogammarus marinus


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