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Low-head dams facilitate Round Goby Neogobius melanostomus invasion

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Abstract

Round Goby Neogobius melanostomus invasion of the Grand River (Ontario, Canada) presents an opportunity to assess the role of abiotic gradients in mediating the establishment and impact of nonnative benthic fishes in rivers. In this system, sequential low-head dams delineate uninvaded and invaded river reaches and create upstream gradients of increasing water velocity. We hypothesized that flow refugia created by impounded reservoirs above low-head dams enhance local Round Goby abundance. Round Goby influence on the native fish community was determined by variance partitioning, and we used generalized additive models to identify small-bodied benthic fish species most likely to be impacted by Round Goby invasion. Round Goby abundance declined as the degree of reservoir effect decreased upstream. The distributions of four species (including the endangered Eastern Sand Darter Ammocrypta pellucida) in invaded reaches were best explained by inclusion of both reservoir-associated abiotic variables and Round Goby abundance as model terms. To determine establishment potential of the uninvaded reach immediately upstream, four environmental habitat characteristics were used in discriminant function analysis (DFA) to predict three potential outcomes of introduction: non-invaded and either lower or higher Round Goby abundance (low and high invasion status, respectively) than the median number of Round Goby at invaded sites. Our DFA function correctly classified non-invaded and high-abundance invasion status sites > 85% of the time, with lower (73%) success in classifying low-abundance invasion status sites, and the spatial pattern of our results suggest that likelihood of establishment is greatest in impounded habitat.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the Fisheries and Oceans Canada Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatic Science, in particular J. Barnucz and L. Bouvier for field support and provision of historical data. We also thank G. Larocque at the Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science for statistical advice. Thorough critique by two anonymous reviewers significantly improved an early version of this manuscript. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Species at Risk Research Fund, the Invasive Species Centre, the Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada funded this work through grants to D.R., A.R., and N.E.M.

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Correspondence to Dustin Raab.

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Animal handling by D.R. was conducted in accordance to McGill University Animal Care Committee guidelines for field studies to minimize discomfort to animals, under animal care protocol 2014-7493.

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Raab, D., Mandrak, N.E. & Ricciardi, A. Low-head dams facilitate Round Goby Neogobius melanostomus invasion. Biol Invasions 20, 757–776 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-017-1573-3

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