Supplementary material from "Effects of dams on downstream molluscan predator–prey interactions in the Colorado River estuary"

Published on 2018-05-16T16:15:31Z (GMT) by
River systems worldwide have been modified for human use and the downstream ecological consequences are often poorly understood. In the Colorado River estuary, where upstream water diversions have limited freshwater input during the last century, mollusc remains from the last several hundred years suggest widespread ecological change. The once abundant clam, <i>Mulinia modesta</i>, has undergone population declines of approximately 94% and populations of predators relying on this species as a food source have likely declined, switched to alternative prey species or both. We distinguish between the first two hypotheses using a null model of predation preference to test whether <i>M. modesta</i> was preyed upon selectively by the naticid snail, <i>Neverita reclusiana</i>, along the estuary's past salinity gradient. To evaluate the third hypothesis, we estimate available prey biomass today and in the past, assuming prey were a limiting resource. Data on the frequency of drill holes—identifiable traces of naticid predation on prey shells—showed several species, including <i>M. modesta</i>, were preferred prey. <i>Neverita reclusiana</i> was likely able to switch prey. Available prey biomass also declined, suggesting the <i>N. reclusiana</i> population also likely declined. These results indicate a substantial change to the structure of the benthic food web. Given the global scale of water management, such changes have likely also occurred in many of the world's estuaries.

Cite this collection

Smith, Jansen A.; C. Handley, John; P. Dietl, Gregory (2018): Supplementary material from "Effects of dams on downstream molluscan predator–prey interactions in the Colorado River estuary". The Royal Society. Collection.