Experimental evidence that ecological effects of an invasive fish are reduced at high densities.
ABSTRACT: Understanding the relationship between invasive species density and ecological impact is a pressing topic in ecology, with implications for environmental management and policy. Although it is widely assumed that invasive species impact will increase with density, theory suggests interspecific competition may diminish at high densities due to increased intraspecific interactions. To test this theory, we experimentally examined intra- and interspecific interactions between a globally invasive fish, round goby (Neogobius melanostomus), and three native species at different round goby densities in a tributary of the Laurentian Great Lakes. Eighteen 2.25 m(2) enclosures were stocked with native fish species at natural abundances, while round gobies were stocked at three different densities: 0 m(-2), 2.7 m(-2), and 10.7 m(-2). After 52 days, native fish growth rate was significantly reduced in the low density goby treatment, while growth in the high density goby treatment mirrored the goby-free treatment for two of three native species. Invertebrate density and gut content weight of native fishes did not differ among treatments. Conversely, gut content weight and growth of round gobies were lower in the high goby density treatment, suggesting interactions between round gobies and native fishes are mediated by interference competition amongst gobies. Our experiment provides evidence that invasive species effects may diminish at high densities, possibly due to increased intraspecific interactions. This is consistent with some ecological theory, and cautions against the assumption that invasive species at moderate densities have low impact.
Project description:Ponto-Caspian gobies are a flock of five invasive fish species that have colonized freshwaters and brackish waters in Europe and North America. One of them, the round goby Neogobius melanostomus, figures among the 100 worst invaders in Europe. Current methods to detect the presence of Ponto-Caspian gobies involve catching or sighting the fish. These approaches are labor intense and not very sensitive. Consequently, populations are usually detected only when they have reached high densities and when management or containment efforts are futile. To improve monitoring, we developed an assay based on the detection of DNA traces (environmental DNA, or eDNA) of Ponto-Caspian gobies in river water. The assay specifically detects invasive goby DNA and does not react to any native fish species. We apply the assay to environmental samples and demonstrate that parameters such as sampling depth, sampling location, extraction protocol, PCR protocol and PCR inhibition greatly impact detection. We further successfully outline the invasion front of Ponto-Caspian gobies in a large river, the High Rhine in Switzerland, and thus demonstrate the applicability of the assay to lotic environments. The eDNA assay requires less time, equipment, manpower, skills, and financial resources than the conventional monitoring methods such as electrofishing, angling or diving. Samples can be taken by untrained individuals, and the assay can be performed by any molecular biologist on a conventional PCR machine. Therefore, this assay enables environment managers to map invaded areas independently of fishermen's' reports and fish community monitorings.
Project description:Introduced species can modify local host-parasite dynamics by amplifying parasite infection which can 'spill-back' to the native fauna, whether they are competent hosts for local parasites, or by acting as parasite sinks with 'dilution' of infection decreasing the parasite burden of native hosts. Recently infection by the trematode Bucephalus polymorphus has increased in several European rivers, being attributed to the introduction of intermediate host species from the Ponto-Caspian region. Using a combination of field and experimental data, we evaluated the competence of non-native and native fish as intermediate hosts for B. polymorphus and its role for parasite development in a definitive host.The density of 0+ juvenile fish (the second intermediate hosts for B. polymorphus) was measured in the River Morava, Czech Republic and fish were screened for natural metacercariae infection. The stomach contents of predatory fish that are definitive hosts of B. polymorphus were examined to assess the importance of non-native gobies for parasite transmission. In semi-natural conditions, parasite establishment, initial survival, and maturity rates in experimentally infected definitive hosts pikeperch Sander lucioperca were measured in flukes recovered from native white bream Abramis bjoerkna and non-native tubenose goby Proterorhinus semilunaris and round goby Neogobius melanostomus. Adult fluke size and egg production was also measured to evaluate the potential effect of intermediate host species on parasite fitness.We detected high natural infection parameters of B. polymorphus in native cyprinids and non-native gobies compared to data from the period prior to goby establishment. Both fish groups are consumed by predatory fish and represent a major component of the littoral fish community. Parasite establishment and adult size in definitive hosts was equivalent among the second intermediate host species, despite a lower size of metacercariae recovered from round gobies. However, development in the definitive host of flukes recovered from gobies was reduced, showing higher mortality, delayed maturity and lower egg production, in comparison with parasites from native hosts.Substantial 'spill-back' of B. polymorphus due to higher transmission rates after establishment of non-native gobies was partially buffered by decreased fitness of B. polymorphus that underwent development in gobies.
Project description:Introduction:The aim of the study was to determine the transmission potential of carp edema virus (CEV) and koi herpesvirus (KHV) introduced to Europe by the invasive round goby (Neogobius melanostomus). Material and Methods:A total of 70 round goby specimens were collected from the Szczecin Lagoon, Poland, and locations in Germany in the third and fourth quarters of 2018. The fish were analysed to detect KHV and CEV by PCR. Results:Six fish specimens were positive for the presence of KHV, while none of the gobies examined showed the presence of CEV. Conclusion:The CEV genome was detected in the goby specimens from Germany and from Poland. Considering the high pace of the spread of the round goby and its effectiveness in acquisition of new ecological niches, it should be kept out during refilling of carp ponds. Further studies should focus on experimental cohabitation of CEV-infected round gobies and specific-pathogen-free (SPF) carp to investigate the potential for active virus transfer.
Project description:Invasive alien species are regarded a nuisance. This extends into a lack of conservation efforts in their native range. As a consequence, conservation of e.g. range-edge populations is neglected. Gobiidae have many representatives of alien species in European freshwaters, and therefore they have a bad reputation. Objectives of this study were to: define the habitat selection patterns of a species at the edge, and examine the ontogenetic variation in its distributions, i.e. spatial distribution of different size classes. A racer goby Babka gymnotrachelus (syn. Neogobius gymnotrachelus) population was selected for the model. In numerous European river basins, Ponto-Caspian racer goby has been an invasive alien species of interest to researchers for many years. Recently, however, native populations of the species have been described in the Polish tributary of the upper Dniester River (Black Sea basin). We used habitat data and densities of racer goby to disentangle the habitat selection patterns of the species at a river reach at the edge of its native range. Evident preferences towards habitats with large submerged objects serving as hiding places were characteristic of the largest gobies. Adult, largest gobies were very likely to choose the 'boulders' site, while forcing smaller individuals to occupy places with faster water current, i.e. less suitable in terms of saving energy. At a larger geographic scale, a significant portion of the submountain river was unsuitable for racer gobies. At the edge of the racer goby range, patches providing habitats suitable for the species were scarce and scattered. With regard to invasive populations, the presence of stony bottoms, quite certainly cannot be considered as a factor excluding potential colonisation by racer goby, and in submountain rivers it might be the preferred kind of bottom.
Project description:Invasive species are one of the greatest threats to biodiversity worldwide, and to successfully manage their introductions is a major challenge for society. Knowledge on the impacts of an invasive species is essential for motivating decision makers and optimally allocating management resources. We use a prominent invasive fish species, the round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) to objectively quantify the state of scientific knowledge on its impacts. Focusing on how native fish species are affected by round goby invasions, we analyzed 113 peer-reviewed papers and found that impacts are highly ecosystem and time scale dependent. We discovered round goby impacts to be profound, but surprisingly complex. Even if identical native species were affected, the impacts remained less comparable across ecosystems than expected. Acknowledging the breadth but also limitations in scientific knowledge on round goby impacts would greatly improve scientists' ability to conduct further research and inform management measures.
Project description:Aggregations of the Ponto-Caspian invasive zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) constitute a suitable habitat for macroinvertebrates, considerably increasing their abundance and providing effective antipredator protection. Thus, the overall effect of a mussel bed on particular predator species may vary from positive to negative, depending on both prey density increase and predator ability to prey in a structurally complex habitat. Alien Ponto-Caspian goby fish are likely to be facilitated when introduced into new areas by zebra mussels, provided that they are capable of utilizing mussel beds as habitat and feeding grounds. We ran laboratory experiments to find which prey (chironomid larvae) densities (from ca. 500 to 2,000 individuals m-2) in a mussel bed make it a more beneficial feeding ground for the racer goby Babka gymnotrachelus (RG) and western tubenose goby Proterorhinus semilunaris (WTG) compared to sandy and stone substrata (containing the basic prey density of 500 ind. m-2). Moreover, we checked how food availability affects habitat selection by fish. Mussel beds became more suitable for fish than alternative mineral substrata when food abundance was at least two times higher (1,000 vs. 500 ind. m-2), regardless of fish size and species. WTG was associated with mussel beds regardless of its size and prey density, whereas RG switched to this habitat when it became a better feeding ground than alternative substrata. Larger RG exhibited a stronger affinity for mussels than small individuals. WTG fed more efficiently from a mussel bed at high food abundances than RG. A literature review has shown that increasing chironomid density, which in our study was sufficient to make a mussel habitat an attractive feeding ground for the gobies, is commonly observed in mussel beds in the field. Therefore, we conclude that zebra mussels may positively affect the alien goby species and are likely to facilitate their establishment in novel areas, contributing to an invasional meltdown in the Ponto-Caspian invasive community.
Project description:Environmental DNA (eDNA) is revolutionizing biodiversity monitoring, occupancy estimates, and real-time detections of invasive species. In the Great Lakes, the round goby (Neogobius melanostomus), an invasive benthic fish from the Black Sea, has spread to encompass all five lakes and many tributaries, outcompeting or consuming native species; however, estimates of round goby abundance are confounded by behavior and habitat preference, which impact reliable methods for estimating their population. By integrating eDNA into round goby monitoring, improved estimates of biomass may be obtainable. We conducted mesocosm experiments to estimate rates of goby DNA shedding and decay. Further, we compared eDNA with several methods of traditional field sampling to compare its use as an alternative/complementary monitoring method. Environmental DNA decay was comparable to other fish species, and first-order decay was lower at 12°C (k = 0.043) than at 19°C (k = 0.058). Round goby eDNA was routinely detected in known invaded sites of Lake Michigan and its tributaries (range log10 4.8-6.2 CN/L), but not upstream of an artificial fish barrier. Traditional techniques (mark-recapture, seining, trapping) in Lakes Michigan and Huron resulted in fewer, more variable detections than eDNA, but trapping and eDNA were correlated (Pearson R = 0.87). Additional field testing will help correlate round goby abundance with eDNA, providing insight on its role as a prey fish and its impact on food webs.
Project description:Non-native invasive species are a major threat to biodiversity, especially in freshwater ecosystems. Freshwater ecosystems are naturally rather isolated from one another. Nonetheless, invasive species often spread rapidly across water sheds. This spread is to a large extent realized by human activities that provide vectors. For example, recreational boats can carry invasive species propagules as "aquatic hitch-hikers" within and across water sheds. We used invasive gobies in Switzerland as a case study to test the plausibility that recreational boats can serve as vectors for invasive fish and that fish eggs can serve as propagules. We found that the peak season of boat movements across Switzerland and the goby spawning season overlap temporally. It is thus plausible that goby eggs attached to boats, anchors, or gear may be transported across watersheds. In experimental trials, we found that goby eggs show resistance to physical removal (90 mN attachment strength of individual eggs) and stay attached if exposed to rapid water flow (2.8 m·s(-1)for 1 h). When exposing the eggs to air, we found that hatching success remained high (>95%) even after eggs had been out of water for up to 24 h. It is thus plausible that eggs survive pick up, within-water and overland transport by boats. We complemented the experimental plausibility tests with a survey on how decision makers from inside and outside academia rate the feasibility of managing recreational boats as vectors. We found consensus that an installation of a preventive boat vector management is considered an effective and urgent measure. This study advances our understanding of the potential of recreational boats to serve as vectors for invasive vertebrate species and demonstrates that preventive management of recreational boats is considered feasible by relevant decision makers inside and outside academia.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The invasive benthic round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) is the most successful temperate invasive fish and has spread in aquatic ecosystems on both sides of the Atlantic. Invasive species constitute powerful in situ experimental systems to study fast adaptation and directional selection on short ecological timescales and present promising case studies to understand factors involved the impressive ability of some species to colonize novel environments. We seize the unique opportunity presented by the round goby invasion to study genomic substrates potentially involved in colonization success. RESULTS:We report a highly contiguous long-read-based genome and analyze gene families that we hypothesize to relate to the ability of these fish to deal with novel environments. The analyses provide novel insights from the large evolutionary scale to the small species-specific scale. We describe expansions in specific cytochrome P450 enzymes, a remarkably diverse innate immune system, an ancient duplication in red light vision accompanied by red skin fluorescence, evolutionary patterns of epigenetic regulators, and the presence of osmoregulatory genes that may have contributed to the round goby's capacity to invade cold and salty waters. A recurring theme across all analyzed gene families is gene expansions. CONCLUSIONS:The expanded innate immune system of round goby may potentially contribute to its ability to colonize novel areas. Since other gene families also feature copy number expansions in the round goby, and since other Gobiidae also feature fascinating environmental adaptations and are excellent colonizers, further long-read genome approaches across the goby family may reveal whether gene copy number expansions are more generally related to the ability to conquer new habitats in Gobiidae or in fish.
Project description:Neogobius melanostomus, the round goby, was recorded by underwater video feeding on crushed dreissenid mussels at a depth of 12 m in Georgian Bay of Lake Huron, a Laurentian Great Lake. In the video, gobies used rotational or twist feeding to tear away particles from crushed mussels. At least 43 examples of this feeding maneuver occur in the video. Up to 120 gobies m-2 were visible at a time in the video. Mean standard length of gobies appearing in the video was 37 mm. Mean standard length of fish exhibiting twist feeding was larger, 48 mm. Mean size of intact mussels in visible clusters was about 10×20 mm, a size which exceeds the gape width of the largest gobies observed in the video. Neogobius melanostomus is known to use twisting to wrest small attached mussels from the substrates which can be crushed by their pharyngeal teeth. I surmise that the behavior observed in the video is an opportunistic manifestation of this inherent behavioral adaptation to overcome gap limitation and exploit a temporary windfall of food.