In attempting to understand the distributions of both introduced species and the native species on which they impact, there is a growing trend to integrate studies of behaviour with more traditional life history/ecological approaches. The question of what mechanisms drive the displacement of the freshwater amphipod Gammarus duebeni by the often introduced G. pulex is presented as a case study. Patterns of displacement are well documented throughout Europe, but the speed and direction of displacement between these species can be varied. From early studies proposing interspecific competition as causal in these patterns, I review research progress to date. I show there has been no evidence for interspecific competition operating, other than the field patterns themselves, a somewhat tautological argument. Rather, the increased recognition of behavioural attributes with respect to the cannibalistic and predatory nature of these species gave rise to a series of studies unravelling the processes driving field patterns. Both species engage in ‘intraguild predation’ (IGP), with moulting females particularly vulnerable to predation by congeneric males. G. pulex is more able both to engage in and avoid this interaction with G. duebeni. However, several factors mediate the strength and asymmetry of this IGP, some biotic (e.g. parasitism) and others abiotic (e.g. water chemistry). Further, a number of alternative hypotheses that may account for the displacement (hybridization; parasite transmission) have been tested and rejected. While interspecific competition has been modelled mathematically and found to be a weak interaction relative to IGP, mechanisms of competition between these Gammarus species remain largely untested empirically. Since IGP may be finely balanced in some circumstances, I conclude that the challenge to detect interspecific competition remains and we require assessment of its role, if any, in the interaction between these species. Appreciation of behavioural attributes and their mediation should allow us to more fully understand, and perhaps predict, species introductions and resultant distributions.

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Contributions to Zoology

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Naturalis journals & series

Dick, J. T. A. (2008). Role of behaviour in biological invasions and species distributions; lessons from interactions between the invasive Gammarus pulex and the native G. duebeni (Crustacea: Amphipoda). Contributions to Zoology, 77(2), 91–98.