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Twenty years of invasion: a review of round goby Neogobius melanostomus biology, spread and ecological implications

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The round goby Neogobius melanostomus is one of the most wide‐ranging invasive fish on earth, with substantial introduced populations within the Laurentian Great Lakes watershed, the Baltic Sea and several major European rivers. Rapid expansion and deleterious ecosystem effects have motivated extensive research on this species; here this research is synthesized. Maps of the global distribution are provided and the invasion history of N. melanostomus, which spread more rapidly at first in North America, but has undergone substantial expansion over the past decade in the Baltic Sea, is summarized. Meta‐analyses comparing their size at age, diet, competitors and predators in North American and European ecosystems are provided. Size at age is region specific, with saline habitats typically supporting larger and faster growing individuals than fresh water. Neogobius melanostomus prey differs substantially between regions, demonstrating a capacity to adapt to locally abundant food sources. Neogobius melanostomus comprise at least 50% of the diet of eight taxa in at least one site or life stage; in total, 16 predator taxa are documented from the Laurentian Great Lakes v. five from Eurasia. Invasive N. melanostomus are the only common forage fish to heavily exploit mussels in the Laurentian Great Lakes and the Baltic Sea, facilitating the transfer of energy from mussels to higher trophic levels in both systems. Neogobius melanostomus morphology, life history, reproduction, habitat preferences, environmental tolerances, parasites, environmental effects, sampling strategies and management are also discussed. Neogobius melanostomus inhabit a wide range of temperate freshwater and brackish‐water ecosystems and will probably continue to spread via ballast water, accidental bait release and natural dispersal worldwide. Climate change will probably enhance N. melanostomus expansion by elevating water temperatures closer to its energetic optimum of 26° C. Future research needs are presented; most pressing are evaluating the economic effects of N. melanostomus invasion, determining long‐term population level effects of egg predation on game‐fish recruitment and comparing several variables (density, ecological effects morphology and life history) among invaded ecosystems. This review provides a central reference as researchers continue studying N. melanostomus, often as examples for advancing basic ecology and invasion biology.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 February 2012

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