Impacts of the invasive round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) on benthic invertebrate fauna: a case study from the Baltic Sea.
The round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) was first observed in the Baltic Sea in 1990 and has since displayed substantial secondary dispersal, establishing numerous dense populations where they may outcompete native fish and negatively impact prey species. There have been multiple round goby diet studies from both the Baltic Sea and the North American Great Lakes where they are similarly invasive. However, studies that quantify their effects on recipient ecosystems and, specifically, their impacts on the benthic invertebrate macrofauna are rare, particularly from European waters. In this study, we conducted the first before-after study of the potential effects of round goby on benthic invertebrate macrofauna taxa in marine-brackish habitats in Europe, focusing of two sites in the Western Baltic Sea, Denmark. Results were in line with those from the Great Lakes, indicating negative impacts on specific molluscan taxa (e.g. Cardiidae bivalves and Neritidae gastropods, which both showed a fall in detected densities of approximately 98% within the Guldborgsund Strait). In contrast, many other groups appeared to be largely unaffected or even show positive trends following invasion. Round goby gut content data were available at one of our study sites from the period immediately after the invasion. These data confirmed that round goby had in fact been preying on the subset of taxa displaying negative trends.