One hypothesis for the transcontinental and intra-Great Lakes basin transfer of round gobies (Neogobius melanostomus) has been that round gobies were pumped into the ballast water of ships. During June 2005 in Lake Erie, we obtained evidence of a vertical migration of round goby larvae, when we collected 167 round goby larvae in surface ichthyoplankton net tows at night and zero during day. These results complemented similar findings from the Muskegon River estuary of Lake Michigan during 2003 and 2004, documenting diel vertical migration for the first time in larval round gobies. We suggest vertical migration behavior may have allowed larval round gobies to be transported to and within the Great Lakes via ballast water and dispersed in the Great Lakes via advection of 6.5–8.5-mm long larvae at the surface. Based on our results, if ballast water was only taken on near the surface during daylight hours from May through September when larval round gobies were present, it would have mitigated the spread of round gobies throughout the Great Lakes.
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