Individual animal species can impact ecosystem processes, but few exotic invaders have demonstrated ecosystem-scale impacts, even when population sizes are large. We combined whole-stream measures of carbon and nitrogen fluxes with rates of consumption and ammonium excretion to show that an exotic freshwater snail, Potamopyrgus antipodarum, dominated these fluxes in a highly productive stream. The snails consumed 75% of gross primary productivity, and their excretion accounted for two-thirds of ammonium demand. Such large fluxes were due to high snail biomass rather than high rates of excretion or consumption. This exotic species may dramatically alter ecosystem function in rivers, with potential consequences for food web structure and element transport.
|Number of pages
|Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
|Published - Oct 1 2003