Community ecology of invasions: direct and indirect effects of multiple invasive species on aquatic communities.
ABSTRACT With many ecosystems now supporting multiple nonnative species from different trophic levels, it can be challenging to disentangle the net effects of invaders within a community context. Here, we combined wetland surveys with a mesocosm experiment to examine the individual and combined effects of nonnative fish predators and nonnative bullfrogs on aquatic communities. Among 139 wetlands, nonnative fish (bass, sunfish, and mosquitofish) negatively influenced the probability of occupancy of Pacific treefrogs (Pseudacris regilla), but neither invader correlated strongly with occupancy by California newts (Taricha torosa), western toads (Anaxyrus boreas), or California red-legged frogs (Rana draytonii). In mesocosms, mosquitofish dramatically reduced the abundance of zooplankton and palatable amphibian larvae (P. regilla and T. torosa), leading to increases in nutrient concentrations and phytoplankton (through loss of zooplankton), and rapid growth of unpalatable toad larvae (through competitive release). Bullfrog larvae reduced the growth of native anurans but had no effect on survival. Despite strong effects on natives, invaders did not negatively influence one another, and their combined effects were additive. Our results highlight how the net effects of multiple nonnative species depend on the trophic level of each invader, the form and magnitude of invader interactions, and the traits of native community members.