Aggressiveness, along with foraging voracity and boldness, are key behavioral mechanisms underlying the competitive displacement and invasion success of exotic species. However, do aggressiveness, voracity and boldness of the invader depend on the presence of an ecologically similar native competitor in the invaded community? We conducted four behavioral assays to compare aggression, foraging voracity, threat response and boldness to forage under predation risk of multiple populations of exotic signal crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus across its native and invaded range with and without a native congener, the Shasta crayfish P. fortis. We predicted that signal crayfish from the invaded range and sympatric with a native congener (IRS) should be more aggressive to outcompete a close competitor than populations from the native range (NR) or invaded range and allopatric to a native congener (IRA). Furthermore, we predicted that IRS populations of signal crayfish should be more voracious, but less bold to forage under predation risk since native predators and prey likely possess appropriate behavioral responses to the invader. Contrary to our predictions, results indicated that IRA signal crayfish were more aggressive towards conspecifics and more voracious and active foragers, yet also bolder to forage under predation risk in comparison to NR and IRS populations, which did not differ in behavior. Higher aggression/voracity/ boldness was positively correlated with prey consumption rates, and hence potential impacts on prey. We suggest that the positive correlations between aggression/voracity/boldness are the result of an overall aggression syndrome. Results of stream surveys indicated that IRA streams have significantly lower prey biomass than in IRS streams, which may drive invading signal crayfish to be more aggressive/voracious/bold to acquire resources to establish a population. ?? 2008 The Authors.
Additional publication details
Differences in aggression, activity and boldness between native and introduced populations of an invasive crayfish