Predicting the threat of the invasive round goby to the multi-million-dollar shellfish industry.

Originating from the Black and Caspian seas, round gobies were introduced into the Great Lakes by the release of ballast water from large trans-Atlantic cargo ships around 1990. Able to live in saltwater or freshwater, they were first found in the French Creek watershed in 2013. Image: Peter van der Sluijs / Wikimedia

Originating from the Black and Caspian seas, round gobies were introduced into the Great Lakes by the release of ballast water from large trans-Atlantic cargo ships around 1990. Able to live in saltwater or freshwater, they were first found in the French Creek watershed in 2013. Image: Peter van der Sluijs / Wikimedia

Team: Jay Stauffer, Joshua Wisor, Kyle Clark, and Sara Mueller

Concerned for the stability of freshwater mussels in French Creek, researchers studied the diet of round goby in the watershed. Their findings confirm that the invasive fish prey on the native mussels. Using a kick seine in four locations, the team collected samples and then dissected the fish to closely examine their stomach contents.

The results of the research—as ominous as they are for French Creek and its endangered mussels—portend the gobies will wreak havoc with shellfish in the Chesapeake Bay. Although the bay’s nearest tributary system, the Susquehanna River, is almost 200 miles and a three-hour drive away, the team predicts that gobies will get there in fishermen’s bait buckets. With tons of fresh river waters pouring into it daily, a constricted mouth, and shallow waters, that estuary is one of the largest bodies of ideal oyster habitat on Earth. The team’s research is a sobering warning for officials and the general public to remain vigilant against using this invasive species as bait.

Funding

USDA NIFA and Hatch Appropriations; Pennsylvania Sea Grant College Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

News

Invasive round gobies may be poised to decimate endangered French Creek mussels

Thematic Area

Environmental Resilience

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Office for Research and Graduate Education

Address

217 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802-2600