Biological Invasions

, Volume 11, Issue 8, pp 1767–1776 | Cite as

Rapid dispersal and establishment of a benthic Ponto-Caspian goby in Lake Erie: diel vertical migration of early juvenile round goby

  • Todd A. HaydenEmail author
  • Jeffrey G. Miner
Original Paper


The round goby, Apollonia melanostoma, a molluscivore specialist, was introduced to the Great Lakes in the early 1990s and rapidly expanded its distribution, especially in Lake Erie. Adult round goby morphology suggests low dispersal and migration potential due to the lack of a swim bladder and benthic life style. Given that the larval stage occurs inside the benthic egg, and juveniles have adult morphologies, it has been suspected that dispersal and invasion potential is low for early life stages also. However, we identified early juvenile round gobies in the nocturnal pelagic in Lake Erie and thus we conducted a sampling study to determine the extent to which this life stage uses the nocturnal pelagic. Replicate ichthyoplankton samples were collected at 3-h intervals (1900–0700 h) at three depths (2 m, 5 m, 8 m) in western Lake Erie (water depth = 10 m) in July and August 2002 and June 2006. Early juvenile round gobies (6–23 mm TL) were present almost exclusively in the nocturnal samples (2200 h, 0100 h, 0400 h) with peak densities approaching 60 individuals per 100 m3 of water sampled. Nocturnal density was also significantly greater at 8-m depth versus 2-m and only the smallest fish (6–8 mm TL) migrated to the surface (2-m). Analyses of diet clearly demonstrated that these fish are foraging on plankton at night and thus may not be light limited for foraging in ship ballast tanks. In ships that take on thousands of tonnes of water for ballast, nocturnal ballasting could easily result in transport of thousands of young round gobies at a time. Additionally, within-lake dispersal at this lifestage is likely common and may facilitate downstream passage across barriers designed to limit range expansion.


Diel vertical migration Dispersal Great Lakes Invasive species Lake Erie Round goby 



This work was funded by the Lake Erie Protection Fund grant (SG185-02) to J. Miner and a research assistantship from the Department of Biological Sciences at Bowling Green State University to T. Hayden. Thanks to John Hageman and The Ohio State University Stone Lab for logistical support. We thank Chris Winslow, Edward Carruthers, James Bales, and Jennifer Hayden for helping with field collections and sample preparations. This manuscript benefited from critiques by Dan Wiegmann and anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate Program in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology, Department of Biological SciencesBowling Green State UniversityBowling GreenUSA

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