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Forskningsartikel2023Vetenskapligt granskadÖppen tillgång

Detection of multiple fish species in the diet of the invasive round goby reveals new trophic interactions in the Baltic Sea

Wallin Kihlberg, Isa; Florin, Ann-Britt; Lundström, Karl; Östman, Örjan


The mesopredatory round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) is an important fish invader in fresh and brackish waters of the northern hemisphere. Trophic interactions of invasive species can generate ecological impacts across the food web in invaded ecosystems. Here we investigated major diet components, spatiotemporal variation in diet and the effect of round goby densities on diet composition in two geographically distinct round goby populations in the Baltic Sea. The round goby is a generalist feeder but previous diet studies, based on visual prey identification, have likely over-emphasized the importance of hard-shelled, invertebrate prey in round goby diet, as shells degrade and evacuate slowly relative to soft-bodied prey that break down rapidly in the stomach. We therefore, in addition to visual stomach content analysis, used DNA metabarcoding, which is less biased towards hard body structures of prey and can be used for species assignment of highly degraded prey. The results demonstrated that round goby diet composition varied between areas and years. Visual stomach content analysis indicated that blue mussel was the main prey in the southern area, whereas hydrobiid gastropods were the major diet component in the northern area. Metabarcoding revealed that several fish species, likely the egg or larval stages of e.g. stickleback, cod and herring, were also part of the round goby diet. Analyses suggested that round goby feeding on fishes was positively associated with round goby densities. Our study shows that round goby, in addition to benthic invertebrates, preys on several fish species of ecological and commercial importance. Thus, there is potential for predator-prey reversal and negative effects of the invasive round goby on large, predatory fishes.


Neogobius melanostomus; invasive species; diet analysis; DNA metabarcoding; spatiotemporal comparison; predator-prey interactions; density-dependent feeding

Publicerad i

Aquatic Invasions
2023, Volym: 18, nummer: 2, sidor: 141-162