Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: New York
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Andres K, Sethi SA, Duskey E, Lepak JM, Rice AN, Estabrook B, Fitzpatrick K, George E, Marcy-Quay B, Paufve M, Perkins K, Scofield AE. (2020) Seasonal habitat use indicates depth may mediate the potential for invasive round goby impacts in inland lakes. Freshwater Biology 65:1337-1347.


1. The round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) is among the fastest-spreading introduced aquatic species in North America and is radiating inland from the Great Lakes into freshwater ecosystems across the landscape. Predicting and managing the impacts of round gobies requires information on the factors influencing their distribution in habitats along the invasion front, yet this information is not available for many recently-invaded ecosystems.
2. We evaluated the seasonal habitat use and biomass of round gobies in an inland temperate lake to define the spatiotemporal scope of biological interactions at the leading edge of the round goby invasion.
3. Using novel statistical approaches, we combine hierarchical models that control for imperfect species detection with flexible smooth terms to describe nonlinear relationships between round goby abundance and environmental gradients. Subsequently, we generate accurate detection-corrected estimates of the standing stock biomass of round gobies.
4. Our results show seasonally differentiated habitat niches, where suitable round goby habitat in summer months is restricted to shallow depths (<18.4 m) with a mixture of vegetative and mussel cover. We found high round goby biomass of 122 kg ha-1 in occupied habitats during the summer, with a total lake-wide biomass of 766,000 kg. In winter, gobies migrate to deep offshore habitats and disperse, dramatically altering their scope for biological interactions with resident aquatic species across summer and winter seasons.
5. The results of this study indicate that the scope of biological interactions in inland lakes may be seasonally variable, with potential for high round goby biomass in shallow lakes or at the periphery of deep lakes in the summer months. Such shallow-water habitats may therefore present higher risk of ecological impacts from round gobies in invaded lentic ecosystems. As round gobies expand inland, consideration of seasonal habitat use may be an important factor in predicting the impacts of this pervasive invader.