Potential negative ecological interactions between ruffe Gymnocephalus cernuus and round goby Apollonia melanostoma (formerly Neogobius melanostomus) might affect the colonization dynamics of these invasive species where they are sympatric in the Great Lakes. In order to determine the potential for ecological interactions between these species, we examined the activity, aggression, and habitat use of round gobies and ruffe in single species and mixed species laboratory experiments. Trials included conditions in which food was concentrated (in light or darkness) or scattered. Results showed that ruffe were more active than gobies, particularly when food was scattered. Activity of both species was significantly lower during darkness. Round gobies were significantly more aggressive than ruffe, and total aggression was lower in mixed species trials. Habitat use by ruffe and round gobies overlapped considerably, but we observed significant differences between species in their use of specific habitats that depended on experimental conditions. Overall, ruffe used open habitats more often than did round gobies, primarily when food was scattered. Round gobies used rocks significantly more frequently than did ruffe, but their use of rock habitat decreased during dark conditions. Ruffe were found more often in plant habitats and less often near the wall of the pool in trials during daylight with concentrated food. Activity and habitat use of ruffe and round goby did not significantly differ between single and mixed species trials. Overall, we found little evidence for negative ecological interactions between ruffe and round goby in these laboratory experiments.
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Vol. 33 • No. 2