A successful non-native predator, round goby, in the Baltic Sea: generalist feeding strategy, diverse diet and high prey consumption
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The round goby Neogobius melanostomus has successfully invaded much of the Baltic Sea. However, very little is known about the feeding habits of the species in this newly invaded environment. Our laboratory experiment showed that the round goby is able to effectively consume a diverse variety of prey when given the choice between dominant benthic invertebrates: bivalves (Macoma balthica, Mytilus trossulus, Cerastoderma glaucum) and amphipods (Gammarus spp.). In contrast consumption of the gastropod (Theodoxus fluviatilis) was very low in all provided combinations. Nevertheless, the round goby had no statistically significant preference towards any of the prey taxa. The round goby exhibited size-specific consumption of M. trossulus, with smaller individuals being consumed at least 25% more than larger size classes. In addition elevated prey density resulted in higher consumption of prey by the fish. The broad diet suggests that shifting densities of benthic invertebrate prey has little influence on the further dispersal of the round goby in the Baltic Sea as the species is potentially able to switch between several native invertebrate taxa. This opportunistic feeding behaviour has likely favoured this invasion and ensured success of the species in the invaded ecosystem.
KeywordsBaltic Sea Benthic invertebrate prey Consumption rates Generalist Prey preference
The project has received funding from BONUS project BIO-C3, the joint Baltic Sea research and development programme (Art 185), funded jointly from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration and from the Estonian Research Council. This work was supported by institutional research funding IUT02-20 of the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Estonian Ethics Commission granted approval (Permission Nr 35/2014) for the use of animals in the research.
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