The North-American amphipods, Melita nitidaSmith, 1873 andIncisocalliope aestuarius(Watling and Maurer, 1973) (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Gammaridea), introduced to the Western Scheldt estuary (The Netherlands)

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The American amphipod species Melita nitida andIncisocalliope aestuarius have been found in the WesternScheldt estuary (the Netherlands). This is the first record of these species inthe north-east Atlantic. Shipping is the most likely vector of introduction.Thedistribution of both species is investigated and compared with the distributionand the microhabitat of co-occurring amphipod species. Melitanitida is known from both the east and west coast of North Americaand I. aestuarius originates from the east coast of NorthAmerica. Until now neither has been reported from other parts of the world. Inthe Netherlands both species are restricted to the mesohaline part of theWestern Scheldt. Melita nitida occurs predominantly underPacific oysters at the underside of boulders, mainly sublittorally. Incisocalliope aestuarius is associated to hydrozoans.Bothmicrohabitats are hardly utilized by other amphipod species. Therefore, thetheory that the existence of many empty niches in north-western Europeanbrackish waters make this environment particularly susceptible to invasions ofalien species is corroborated. The application of hard substrates in a regionoriginally predominated by soft bottoms moreover facilitates the introductionofexotic species. The species community on hard substrates in the mesohaline partof the Western Scheldt contains a high proportion of introduced species:approximately one third of the macrofauna species is of allochthonous origin.

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