No effect of round goby Neogobius melanostomus colonisation on young-of-the-year fish density or microhabitat use
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The round goby Neogobius melanostomus has recently invaded several major freshwater systems in Europe and North America. Despite numerous studies predicting an impact on native fish assemblages, few have attempted to demonstrate it. In this case study, we monitored the effect of N. melanostomus colonisation on abundance and habitat utilisation of both young-of-the-year (YOY) native fish and YOY western tubenose goby Proterorhinus semilunaris in a typical, medium-sized European river. Colonisation by N. melanostomus had no apparent effect on either native fish abundance and species richness or P. semilunaris abundance. Moreover, after colonisation, both native fish and P. semilunaris occupied similar niches (i.e. microhabitats) to those occupied before colonisation. While niche use of YOY N. melanostomus and P. semilunaris overlapped significantly, YOY native fish utilised different habitats from the gobiids. We suggest that N. melanostomus did not compete for resources with YOY fish in our study area due to lack of niche overlap and/or surplus resources. As N. melanostomus rapidly dominated the fish assemblage at our site, we further suggest that utilisation of an empty niche, rather than competitive superiority, was the main factor facilitating its success.
KeywordsInvasive species Niche shift Neogobius melanostomus Proterorhinus semilunaris Impact
This study was supported by the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic, Grant No. P505/11/1768. We thank Gabriela Konečná, Markéta Mrkvová, Luděk Šlapanský and Lucie Všetičková for help with fieldwork, and M. Reichard for valuable comments to an earlier version of the manuscript. We are much indebted to representatives of the Moravian Angling Union for allowing us to sample in their waters.
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