, Volume 607, Issue 1, pp 17–26 | Cite as

Ontogenetic variability in the external morphology of monkey goby, Neogobius fluviatilis (Pallas, 1814) and its relevance to invasion potential

  • Mária Čápová
  • Ivana Zlatnická
  • Vladimír KováčEmail author
  • Stanislav Katina
Primary research paper


In the previous decade, four species of non-native gobies have invaded the middle section of the river Danube and its tributaries. An effective tool for understanding biological invasions is the evaluation of various biological traits (morphological, life history, ontogenetic) within an epigenetic context. The present study examines the external morphology of monkey goby Neogobius fluviatilis (Pallas, 1814) from the mouth of the River Hron, the morphological differences among three goby species (monkey, bighead and round) and the relevance of these differences for invasive potential. Monkey goby reach their definite phenotype very early in their ontogeny and thus represent a strongly precocial (specialized) species with direct development. The morphological differences between monkey and two other goby species also reflect its strong specialization for sandy substrata and smaller prey types. Thus, monkey goby are not expected to spread to new areas as fast as the round and bighead gobies, and their distribution is likely to be limited to sandy and/or sandy-gravel substrata. If this assumption is correct, then the potential adverse impact of monkey goby on native fauna or even ecosystem is likely to be less than that of the bighead and round gobies.


Ponto-Caspian gobies Danube catchment Shape analysis 



We thank A. Novomeská for her assistance in the field and M. Balážová and E. Záhorská for their assistance in the laboratory, as well as G. H. Copp for his comments and improvements of the English. This study was funded by Slovak Scientific agency VEGA Project No. 1/2341/05 and the Grant of Comenius University UK/141/2007, the statistical analysis by MRTN-CT-2005-019564 (EVAN).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mária Čápová
    • 1
  • Ivana Zlatnická
    • 1
  • Vladimír Kováč
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stanislav Katina
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Ecology Mlynská Dolina, Faculty of Natural SciencesComenius UniversityBratislavaSlovakia
  2. 2.Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics, Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and InformaticsComenius UniversityBratislavaSlovakia
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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