An eDNA Assay to Monitor a Globally Invasive Fish Species from Flowing Freshwater.
ABSTRACT: 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: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: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:Invasions of Ponto-Caspian fish species into north-western European river basins accelerated since the opening of the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal in 1992. Since 2002, at least five Ponto-Caspian alien fish species have arrived in The Netherlands. Four species belong to the Gobiidae family (Neogobius fluviatilis, Neogobius melanostomus, Ponticola kessleri, and Proterorhinus semilunaris) and one to the Cyprinidae family (Romanogobio belingi). These species are expected to be potentially deleterious for the populations of four native benthic fish species: Gobio gobio (Cyprinidae), Barbatula barbatula (Nemacheilidae), Cottus perifretum, and C. rhenanus (Cottidae). Invasion success may be dependent on competitive trophic interactions with native species, which are enabled and/or constrained by feeding-related morphological traits. Twenty-two functional feeding traits were measured in nine species (in total 90 specimens). These traits were quantitatively linked to the mechanical, chemical and behavioral properties of a range of aquatic resource categories, using a previously developed food-fish model (FFM). The FFM was used to predict the trophic profile (TP) of each fish: the combined capacities to feed on each of the resource types. The most extreme TPs belonged to three alien species, indicating that they were most specialized among the studied species. Of these three, only P. kessleri overlapped with the two native Cottus species, indicating potential trophic competition. N. fluviatilis and R. belingi did not show any overlap, indicating that there is low trophic competition. The two remaining alien goby species (N. melanostomus and P. semilunaris) had average TPs and could be considered generalist feeders. They overlapped with each other and with G. gobio and B. barbatula, indicating potential trophic competition. This study suggests that both generalist and specialist species can be successful invaders. Since the FFM predicts potential interactions between species, it provides a tool to support horizon scanning and rapid risk assessments of alien species.
Project description: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: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: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:Parasites have been increasingly recognized as participants in indirect ecological interactions, including those mediated by parasite-induced changes to host behaviour (trait-mediated indirect interactions or TMIIs). In most documented examples, host behaviours altered by parasites increase susceptibility to predation because the predator is also a host (host-manipulation). Here, we test for a TMII in which a parasitic copepod modifies the predator-prey interaction between a small goby host and several larger predatory fish. Gobies compete for crevices in the reef to avoid predation and goby mortality increases more rapidly with increasing refuge shortage for parasitized gobies than for those free of parasites. We found interactive effects of refuge shortage and parasitism on two behaviours we predicted might be associated with parasite-mediated competition for refuges. First, as refuge-shortage increases, the rate of aggression among gobies increases and parasitism intensifies this interaction. Second, goby proximity to refuges increases as refuges become scarce, but parasitism nullifies this increase. In combination, these parasite-induced changes in behaviour may explain why parasitized gobies are poor competitors for refuges. Because the parasite is not trophically transmitted via host manipulation, these altered behaviours in parasitized gobies are likely coincidental to infection.
Project description:Current taxonomy of western Eurasian trout leaves a number of questions open; it is not clear to what extent some species are distinct genetically and morphologically. The purpose of this paper was to explore phylogeography and species boundaries in freshwater and anadromous trout from the drainages of the Black and the Caspian Seas (Ponto-Caspian). We studied morphology and mitochondrial phylogeny, combining samples from the western Caucasus within the potential range of five nominal species of trout that are thought to inhabit this region, and using the sequences available from GenBank. Our results suggest that the genetic diversity of trout in the Ponto-Caspian region is best explained with the fragmentation of catchments. (1) All trout species from Ponto-Caspian belong to the same mitochondrial clade, separated from the other trout since the Pleistocene; (2) the southeastern Black Sea area is the most likely place of diversification of this clade, which is closely related to the clades from Anatolia; (3) The species from the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea drainages are monophyletic; (4) except for the basal lineage of the Ponto-Caspian clade, Salmo rizeensis, all the lineages produce anadromous forms; (5) genetic diversification within the Ponto-Caspian clade is related to Pleistocene glacial waves; (6) the described morphological differences between the species are not fully diagnostic, and some earlier described differences depend on body size; the differences between freshwater and marine forms exceed those between the different lineages. We suggest a conservative taxonomic approach, using the names S. rizeensis and Salmo labrax for trout from the Black Sea basin and Salmo caspius and Salmo ciscaucasicus for the fish from the Caspian basin.
Project description:Recently, several studies indicated that species from the Ponto-Caspian region may be evolutionarily predisposed to become nonindigenous species (NIS); however, origin of NIS established in different regions has rarely been compared to confirm these statements. More importantly, if species from certain area/s are proven to be better colonizers, management strategies to control transport vectors coming from those areas must be more stringent, as prevention of new introductions is a cheaper and more effective strategy than eradication or control of established NIS populations. To determine whether species evolved in certain areas have inherent advantages over other species in colonizing new habitats, we explored NIS established in the North and Baltic Seas and Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River regions-two areas intensively studied in concern to NIS, highly invaded by Ponto-Caspian species and with different salinity patterns (marine vs. freshwater). We compared observed numbers of NIS in these two regions to expected numbers of NIS from major donor regions. The expected numbers were calculated based on the available species pool from donor regions, frequency of shipping transit, and an environmental match between donor and recipient regions. A total of 281 NIS established in the North and Baltic Seas and 188 in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River. Ponto-Caspian taxa colonized both types of habitats, saltwater areas of the North and Baltic Seas and freshwater of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River, in much higher numbers than expected. Propagule pressure (i.e., number of introduced individuals or introduction effort) is of great importance for establishment success of NIS; however in our study, either shipping vector or environmental match between regions did not clarify the high numbers of Ponto-Caspian taxa in our study areas. Although we cannot exclude the influence of other transport vectors, our findings suggest that the origin of the species plays an important role for the predisposition of successful invaders.