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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Seasonal depth distribution and thermal experience of the non-indigenous round goby Neogobius melanostomus in the Baltic Sea: implications to key trophic relations

Behrens, Jane W.; Ryberg, Marie P.; Einberg, Heli; Eschbaum, Redik; Florin, Ann-Britt; Grygiel, Wlodzimierz; Herrmann, Jens Peter; Huwer, Bastian; Hussy, Karin; Knospina, Elina; Noomaa, Kristiina; Oesterwind, Daniel; Polte, Patrick; Smolinski, Szymon; Ustups, Didzis; van Deurs, Mikael; Ojaveer, Henn


Native to the Ponto-Caspian region, the benthic round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) has invaded several European inland waterbodies as well as the North American Great Lakes and the Baltic Sea. The species is capable of reaching very high densities in the invaded ecosystems, with not only evidence for significant food-web effects on the native biota and habitats, but also negative implications to coastal fishers. Although generally considered a coastal species, it has been shown that round goby migrate to deeper areas of the Great Lakes and other inland lakes during the cold season. Such seasonal movements may create new spatio-temporal ecosystem consequences in invaded systems. To seek evidence for seasonal depth distribution in coastal marine habitats, we compiled all available catch data for round goby in the Baltic Sea since its invasion and until 2017. We furthermore related the depths at capture for each season with the ambient thermal environment. The round goby spend autumn and winter at significantly deeper and offshore areas compared to spring and summer months; few fish were captured at depths < 25 m in these colder months. Similarly, in spring and summer, round goby were not captured at depths > 25 m. The thermal conditions at which round goby were caught varied significantly between seasons, being on average 18.3 °C during summer, and dropping to a low 3.8 °C during winter months. Overall, the fish sought the depths within each season with the highest possible temperatures. The spatial distribution of the round goby substantially overlaps with that of its main and preferred prey (mussels) and with that of its competitor for food (flatfish), but only moderately with the coastal predatory fish (perch), indicating thereby very complex trophic interactions associated with this invasion. Further investigations should aim at quantifying the food web consequences and coupling effects between different habitats related to seasonal migrations of the round goby, both in terms of the species as a competitor, predator and prey.


Depth; Invasive species; Migration; Predator; Prey; Temperature

Published in

Biological Invasions
2022, volume: 24, number: 2, pages: 527-541
Publisher: SPRINGER

Authors' information

Behrens, Jane W.
Technical University of Denmark
Ryberg, Marie P.
Technical University of Denmark
Einberg, Heli
University of Tartu
Eschbaum, Redik
University of Tartu
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Resources
Grygiel, Wlodzimierz
National Marine Fisheries Research Institute
Herrmann, Jens Peter
University of Hamburg
Huwer, Bastian
Technical University of Denmark
Hussy, Karin
Technical University of Denmark
Knospina, Elina
Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment BIOR
Noomaa, Kristiina
University of Tartu
Oesterwind, Daniel
Johann Heinrich von Thunen Institute
Polte, Patrick
Johann Heinrich von Thunen Institute
Smolinski, Szymon
National Marine Fisheries Research Institute
Ustups, Didzis
Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment BIOR
van Deurs, Mikael
Technical University of Denmark
Ojaveer, Henn
University of Tartu

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG14 Life below water

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