Benefits to shorebirds from invasion of a non-native shellfish

Caldow, Richard W. G.; Stillman, Richard; Durell, Sarah E. A. Le V. dit; West, Andrew D.; McGrorty, Selwyn; Goss-Custard, John D.; Wood, Phillipa J.; Humphreys, John. 2007 Benefits to shorebirds from invasion of a non-native shellfish. Proceedings of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences, 274 (1616). 1449-1455.

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Introductions of non-native species are seen as major threats to ecosystem function and biodiversity. However, invasions of aquatic habitats by non-native species are known to benefit generalist consumers that exhibit dietary switches and prey upon the exotic species in addition to or in preference to native ones. There is, however, little knowledge concerning the population-level implications of such dietary changes. Here, we show that the introduction of the Manila clam Tapes philippinarum into European coastal waters has presented the Eurasian oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus ostralegus with a new food resource and resulted in a previously unknown predator–prey interaction between these species. We demonstrate, with an individuals-based simulation model, that the presence of this non-native shellfish, even at the current low density, has reduced the predicted over-winter mortality of oystercatchers at one recently invaded site. Further increases in clam population density are predicted to have even more pronounced effects on the density dependence of oystercatcher over-winter mortality. These results suggest that if the Manila clam were to spread around European coastal waters, a process which is likely to be facilitated by global warming, this could have considerable benefits for many shellfish-eating shorebird populations.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biodiversity
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Hails
ISSN: 0962-8452
Format Availability: Electronic, Print
Additional Keywords: biological invasions, Manila clam, Tapes philippinarum, climate change
NORA Subject Terms: Zoology
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 09 Aug 2007 10:38 +0 (UTC)

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