Enemy release and genetic founder effects in invasive killer shrimp populations of Great Britain

Katie Arundell, Alison Dunn, Jenna Louise Alexander, Robert Shearman, Natasha Louise Archer, Joe Ironside

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The predatory “killer shrimp” Dikerogammarus villosus invaded Britain from mainland Europe in 2010. Originating in the Ponto-Caspian region, this invader has caused significant degradation of European freshwater ecosystems by predating and competitively excluding native invertebrate species. In contrast to continental Europe, in which invasions occurred through the migration of large numbers of individuals along rivers and canals, the invasion of Great Britain must have involved long distance dispersal across the sea. This makes the loss of genetic diversity and of debilitating parasites more likely. Analysis of nuclear microsatellite loci and mitochondrial DNA sequences of D. villosus samples from the four known populations in Britain reveal loss of rare alleles, in comparison to reference populations from the west coast of continental Europe. Screening of the British D. villosus populations by PCR detected no microsporidian parasites, in contrast with continental populations of D. villosus and native amphipod populations, most of which are infected with microsporidia. These findings suggest that the initial colonisation of Great Britain and subsequent long distance dispersal within Britain were associated with genetic founder effects and enemy release due to loss of parasites. Such effects are also likely to occur during future long-distance dispersal events of D. villosus to Ireland or North America.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1439-1451
Number of pages13
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number5
Early online date04 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - 01 May 2015


  • dikerogammarus villosus
  • Great Britain
  • microsporidia
  • genetics
  • enemy release
  • Dikerogammarus villosus
  • Genetics
  • Enemy release
  • Microsporidia


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