Round gobies have had significant impacts on benthic fish and invertebrate communities in nearshore habitats of the Great Lakes. As round gobies have become more abundant in lake habitats, there has been an expansion of their populations into tributary streams and rivers. We compared stream invertebrate and fish communities in New York tributaries to Lake Erie with round gobies present and absent. Four of six benthic invertebrate metrics differed between streams with and without round gobies. Streams with round gobies present had reduced Shannon diversity, EPT richness, and EPT/chironomid ratios, and increased macroinvertebrate density relative to streams without round gobies, but there was no difference in non-Diptera density, or total taxa richness. None of the four fish metrics examined differed between streams with and without round gobies. However, darters occurred in all streams lacking round gobies, but did not occur in any streams with round gobies. Comparisons with historical fish and macroinvertebrate distributional data support our suspicion of goby-induced community changes. In these New York streams, round gobies seem to have had significant impacts on invertebrate communities via their consumptive behavior, whereas the impacts on fish communities are less evident. If round gobies continue to expand their distribution inland, the resultant alterations in macroinvertebrate communities may impact the suitability of tributary streams as spawning and nursery habitat for several sport fish species and for energy dynamics in tributary streams.
Journal of Great Lakes Research
Vol. 34 • No. 4
Vol. 34 • No. 4
stream community ecology