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The role of substrate holding in achieving critical swimming speeds: a case study using the invasive round goby (Neogobius melanostomus)


The swimming performance of fishes has generally been assessed using a stepped velocity test where the speed at fatigue is considered the critical swimming performance (U crit). Although this test was designed for fishes that swim in the water column, it has been applied to fishes that adhere to the substrate. Here we examined the extent to which substrate holding, slipping and swimming contributed to reaching U crit in an example substrate holding fish, the invasive round goby. A linear model indicated that each behavior contributed significantly to U crit, but that substrate holding was by far the biggest contributor (65.8 ± 3.9 % vs. 5.8 ± 0.9 and 28.4 ± 3.4 % slipping and swimming). We also used our behavioural analysis to determine the critical substrate holding speed (U hold: 28.6 ± 1.1 cm s−1). We conclude that the U crit test can be applied to substrate holding fish but that it is not just an indication of critical swimming speed as is often considered and must be interpreted with caution.

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We thank Marc St. Pierre of the University of Windsor Science Technical shop for his outstanding craftsmanship of the swim tunnel respirometer. This study was funded by NSERC grants to KBT and DMH.

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Correspondence to Keith B. Tierney.

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Gilbert, M.J.H., Barbarich, J.M., Casselman, M. et al. The role of substrate holding in achieving critical swimming speeds: a case study using the invasive round goby (Neogobius melanostomus). Environ Biol Fish 99, 793–799 (2016).

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  • Swimming performance
  • U crit
  • Substrate holding
  • Gobiidae