Biological Invasions

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 367–384 | Cite as

Invasive species are less parasitized than native competitors, but for how long? The case of the round goby in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin

  • Andrée D. Gendron
  • David J. Marcogliese
  • Michael Thomas
Original Paper


There is increasing evidence that parasitism represents an unpredictable dimension of the ecological impacts of biological invasions. In addition to the risk of exotic pathogen transmission, other mechanisms such as parasite-release, could contribute to shaping the relationship between introduced species and native communities. In this study, we used the Eurasian round goby (Neogobius menalostomus) in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River ecosystem to further explore these ideas. As predicted by the parasite-release hypothesis, recently established populations of round goby were parasitized by a depauperate community of generalist helminths (8 taxa), all commonly found in the St. Lawrence River. In comparison, two native species, the logperch (Percina caprodes) and spottail shiner (Notropis hudsonius), were the hosts of 25 and 24 taxa respectively. Round gobies from each of 3 sampled localities were also less heavily infected than both indigenous species. This is in contrast to what is observed in round goby’s native range where the species is often the most parasitized among gobid competitors. This relative difference in parasite pressure could enhance its competitiveness in the introduced range. However, our study of an older population of round goby in Lake St. Clair suggests that this advantage over native species could be of short duration. Within 15 years, the parasite abundance and richness in the round goby has more than doubled whereas the number of parasite species per fish has increased to levels of those typical of fish indigenous to the St. Lawrence-Great Lakes watershed.


Round goby Neogobius melanostomus Fish parasites Enemy release hypothesis Colonization time St. Lawrence River-Great Lakes Basin 



We would like to thank Germain Brault, Michel Arsenault, Claude Lessard, Sophie Trépanier, Marie-Pier Ricard, Jacinthe Gosselin, Eugénie Schaff, Pierre-Olivier Benoit, Maxime Guérard, Jean-François Lafond, Maude Lachapelle, Hubert Désilets, Lila Gagnon-Brambilla, Roxane Pétel and Maxime Thibault for their help in the collection of gobies from the St. Lawrence River and/or examination of fish for parasites. Round gobies from Lake St. Clair were collected by staff from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Lake St. Clair Fisheries Research Station during scheduled surveys conducted under Federal Aid Study F-81-R-9 Study 230488. We are thankful to Christopher Blanar for his contribution to parasite identification. Pierre Gagnon is acknowledged for mathematical and statistical advice. The insightful suggestions and comments of two anonymous referees significantly improved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrée D. Gendron
    • 1
  • David J. Marcogliese
    • 1
  • Michael Thomas
    • 2
  1. 1.Fluvial Ecosystem Research Section, Aquatic Ecosystem Protection Research, Division, Water Science and Technology Directorate, Science and Technology Branch, Environment CanadaSt. Lawrence CentreMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Michigan Department of Natural ResourcesLake St. Clair Fisheries Research StationMt. ClemensUSA

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