Impact of biotic invasion on food web interactions: Tracking predation on native and invasive earthworms by molecular techniques

 

Anita Juen, Daniela Straube

 

Biotic invasion has become one of the most important causes of global change. Expanding human migration and commerce increased the geographic scope, the frequency and the number of unintentionally imported exotic species. Some of these exotic species become invasive. Consequences include reduced yields in agriculture, fishery and forestry, disruption of nature reserves and irretrievable biodiversity loss. This project deals with an Asian earthworm species, Amynthas agrestis (Oligochaeta, Megascolicidae), which is currently invading the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We investigate predation on A. agrestis by native predators, like beetles and beetle larvae, centipedes and the famous salamanders of this National Park. In addition we analyse how the newly available prey changes predation on indigenous prey species and investigate changes in the composition and/or dominance structure of the native predator community due to the invading earthworm A. agrestis.

 

Funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and the University of Innsbruck

 

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