MEPS 336:169-175 (2007)  -  doi:10.3354/meps336169

Behavioural response of invasive Mytilus galloprovincialis and indigenous Perna perna mussels exposed to risk of predation

K. R. Nicastro*,**, G. I. Zardi**, C. D. McQuaid

Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, PO Box 94, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa
*Email:
**These authors contributed equally to this study

ABSTRACT: We compared the behavioural responses of an indigenous South African mussel (Perna perna) and an invasive mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) to the risk of predation. Both species were subjected to the specific risk of predation by the native rock lobster Jasus lalandii and the general risk of predation simulated by the presence of damaged conspecifics. We hypothesised that, because M. galloprovincialis evolved in allopatry from the rock lobster, P. perna would respond more strongly to J. lalandii, but that there would be less difference between species in their response to damaged conspecifics. The results confirmed our initial hypotheses. M. galloprovincialis crawled farther under both predation treatments and generally aggregated more than P. perna. P. perna has a larger foot, and our results therefore do not reflect morphological differences between the species but imply greater sensitivity in M. galloprovincialis to chemical cues. Crawling distance was not enhanced under predation threat relative to the control; therefore, increased clumping due to more rapid random movement cannot explain our results, indicating that chemical attraction among individuals is important. P. perna clumping behaviour was significantly greater when exposed to local lobster effluent or damaged conspecifics, whereas M. galloprovincialis clumped more when exposed to a general threat of predation but exhibited naïve behaviour to local predator effluent. This lack of responsiveness to a native predator could be due not only to the recent arrival of the European mussel, but also to the relatively low selective effects of predation in South Africa.


KEY WORDS: Clumping behaviour · Invasive species · Risk of predation


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