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Invader abundance and contraction of niche breadth during replacement of a native gammarid amphipod

Cite this dataset

Montgomery, Ian (2022). Invader abundance and contraction of niche breadth during replacement of a native gammarid amphipod [Dataset]. Dryad.


The introduction of non-native species to new locations is a growing global phenomenon with major negative effects on native species and biodiversity. Such introductions potentially bring competitors into contact leading to partial or total species replacements. This creates an opportunity to study novel species interactions as they occur, with the potential to address the strength of inter- and intraspecific interactions, most notably competition. Such potential has often not been realized, however, due to the difficulties inherent in detecting rapid and spatially expansive species interactions under natural field conditions. The invasive amphipod crustacean Gammarus pulex has replaced a native species, Gammarus duebeni celticus, in river and lake systems across Europe. This replacement process is at least partially driven by differential parasitism, cannibalism and intraguild predation, but the role of interspecific competition has yet to be resolved. Here, we examine how abundance of an invasive species may affect spatial niche breadth of a native congeneric species. We base our analyses of niche breadth on ordination and factor analysis of biological community and physical parameters, respectively, constituting a summative, multidimensional approach to niche breadth along environmental gradients. Results derived from biological and environmental niche criteria were consistent, although interspecific effects were stronger using the biological niche approach. We show that the niche breadth of the native species is constrained as abundance of the invader increases, but the converse effect does not occur. We conclude that the interaction between invasive G. pulex and native G. d. celticus under natural conditions is consistent with strong interspecific competition whereby a native, weaker competitor is replaced by a superior invasive competitor. This study indicates a strong role of interspecific competition, alongside other known interactions such as differential intraguild predation, in rapid and expansive species replacements following biological invasions.


26 sites with 30 samples at each site taken at 5 m intervals. Environmental variable related to river structure and surrounding habitat 780 samples in total. Identified and counted to family level except for gammarids which were identified to species and also adult/juvenile.


Natural Environment Research Council, Award: GR3/7603’A’