Multi-trophic native and non-native prey naïveté shape marine invasion success
Invasive predators have caused rapid declines in many native prey species across the globe. Predator invasion success may be attributed to prey naïveté, or the absence of anti-predator behavior between native and non-native species. An understanding of the effects of naïveté at different timescales since introduction and across multiple trophic levels is lacking, however, particularly in marine systems. Given the central role of trophic interactions in invasion dynamics, this knowledge gap limits the ability to predict high impact predator invasions. Naïveté was examined across three trophic levels of marine invertebrates: a native basal prey (hard clam), two non-native intermediate predators (the recently-introduced Asian shore crab and the long-established European green crab), a native intermediate predator (juvenile blue crabs), and a native top predator (adult blue crab). We hypothesized that naïveté would be more pronounced in trophic interactions involving the recently-introduced non-native predator in comparison to the long-established non-native and native intermediate predators. We further hypothesized that the recently-introduced intermediate predator would both benefit from naïveté of the native basal prey and be hindered by higher mortality through its own naïveté to the native top predator. To test these hypotheses, three laboratory experiments and a field experiment were used. Consistent with our hypotheses, basal prey naïveté was most pronounced with the recently-introduced intermediate predator, and this increased the predator’s foraging success. This recently-introduced intermediate predator, however, exhibited an ineffective anti-predator response to the native top predator, and was also preyed upon more in the field than its long-established and native counterparts. Therefore, despite direct benefits from basal prey naïveté, the recently-introduced intermediate predator’s naïveté to its own predators may limit its invasion success. These results highlight the importance of a multi-trophic perspective on predator-prey dynamics to more fully understand the consequences of naïveté in invasion biology.