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Rakauskas V., Pūtys Ž., Dainys J., Lesutienė J., Ložys L., Arbačiauskas K. 2013. Increasing population of the invader round goby, Neogobius melanostomus (Actinopterygii: Perciformes: Gobiidae), and its trophic role in the Curonian Lagoon, SE Baltic Sea. Acta Ichthyol. Piscat.  43 (2): 95–108.

Background. The round goby, Neogobius melanostomus (Pallas, 1814), is a recent invader in the Curonian Lagoon, SE Baltic Sea. As invasive species are among the most severe threats for biodiversity loss and can induce food web alterations, the development of round goby population in the Curonian Lagoon and its possible impacts on fish community and the entire ecosystem are of great scientific interest. This research reports on the expansion and trophic role of round goby in the Curonian Lagoon.

Materials and methods. Occurrence and abundance of round goby was investigated using a beach seine and gill nets at the northern and central parts of the Curonian Lagoon during a six-year period from 2007 to 2012. The trophic niche of the newcomer was revealed by applying gut content and stable isotope analyses (SIA). A total of 61 samples of other fish species were taken for SIA in order to reveal with which resident fish species the exploitative competition could be expected. Stable isotope mixing models were used to evaluate the contribution of round goby to the nutrition of top predators of the Curonian Lagoon: European perch, Perca fluviatilis Linnaeus, 1758; pike-perch, Sander lucioperca (Linnaeus, 1758); great cormorant, Phalacrocorax carbo; and grey heron, Ardea cinerea.

Results. The survey showed that round goby expanded its distribution area and recently occurs in the entire Lithuanian part of the Curonian Lagoon. Variation in the density of round goby suggests that the invader’s abundance may be stabilised in the northern part of the lagoon. Gut content and stable isotope analyses showed round goby being mainly benthivorous. The largest trophic overlap with respect to SIA was detected between the invader and ruffe, Gymnocephalus cernua (Linnaeus, 1758), the fish which presumably exploits the same habitat type. According to stable isotope mixing models round goby was included with considerable shares into the diet of top predators.

Conclusion. The further expansion of round goby inside the Curonian Lagoon is ongoing. However, there is evidence on population density stabilisation in the northern part of the lagoon. Native benthivorous fish, especially ruffe, may be affected through competition for food resources in habitats where the newcomer is numerous. Round goby significantly contributes to the diet of piscivorous fish and birds. That may promote the regulation of invader population abundance in the lagoon.

Keywords: aquatic invasion, diet composition, stable isotopes



DOI: 10.3750/AIP2013.43.2.02

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