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      Mutual Facilitation Among Invading Nuttall’s Waterweed and Quagga Mussels

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          Nuttall’s waterweed ( Elodea nuttallii) is the most abundant invasive aquatic plant species in several European countries. Elodea populations often follow a boom-bust cycle, but the causes and consequences of this dynamics are yet unknown. We hypothesize that both boom and bust periods can be affected by dreissenid mussel invasions. While mutual facilitations between these invaders could explain their rapid parallel expansion, subsequent competition for space might occur. To test this hypothesis, we use data on temporal changes in the water quality and the abundance of E. nuttallii and the quagga mussel Dreissena rostriformis bugensis in a temperate shallow lake. Lake Müggelsee (Germany) was turbid and devoid of submerged macrophytes for 20 years (1970–1989), but re-colonization with macrophytes started in 1990 upon reductions in nutrient loading. We mapped macrophyte abundance from 1999 and mussel abundance from 2011 onwards. E. nuttallii was first detected in 2011, spread rapidly, and was the most abundant macrophyte species by 2017. Native macrophyte species were not replaced, but spread more slowly, resulting in an overall increase in macrophyte coverage to 25% of the lake surface. The increased abundance of E. nuttallii was paralleled by increasing water clarity and decreasing total phosphorus concentrations in the water. These changes were attributed to a rapid invasion by quagga mussels in 2012. In 2017, they covered about one-third of the lake area, with mean abundances of 3,600 mussels m −2, filtering up to twice the lake’s volume every day. The increasing light availability in deeper littoral areas supported the rapid spread of waterweed, while in turn waterweed provided surface for mussel colonization. Quantities of dreissenid mussels and E. nuttallii measured at 24 locations were significantly correlated in 2016, and yearly means of E. nuttallii quantities increased with increasing mean dreissenid mussel quantities between 2011 and 2018. In 2018, both E. nuttallii and dreissenid abundances declined. These data imply that invasive waterweed and quagga mussels initially facilitated their establishment, supporting the invasional meltdown hypothesis, while subsequently competition for space may have occurred. Such temporal changes in invasive species interaction might contribute to the boom-bust dynamics that have been observed in Elodea populations.

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          Most cited references 67

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                Author and article information

                Front Plant Sci
                Front Plant Sci
                Front. Plant Sci.
                Frontiers in Plant Science
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                26 June 2019
                : 10
                1Department of Ecosystem Research, Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) , Berlin, Germany
                2Faculty VI: Planning, Building and Environment, Institute for Ecology, Technical University Berlin , Berlin, Germany
                3Lanaplan GbR , Nettetal, Germany
                Author notes

                Edited by: Rossano Bolpagni, Institute for the Electromagnetic Detection of the Environment (IREA), Italy

                Reviewed by: Agnieszka Karolina Kolada, Institute of Environmental Protection (IOS), Poland; Marco Bartoli, University of Parma, Italy

                *Correspondence: Sabine Hilt, hilt@

                This article was submitted to Functional Plant Ecology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Plant Science

                Copyright © 2019 Wegner, Kronsbein, Gillefalk, van de Weyer, Köhler, Funke, Monaghan and Hilt.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 5, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 73, Pages: 12, Words: 9288
                Funded by: German Research Foundation 10.13039/501100001659
                Award ID: GRK 2032/1
                Plant Science
                Original Research

                Plant science & Botany

                macrophyte, lake, invasional meltdown hypothesis, competition, invasive species


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