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Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management





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Area of Concern, Hamilton Harbour, invasive species, remediation, stable isotopes, trophic position

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Copyright © 2017 Crown Copyright. Anthropogenic pollution and the introduction of invasive species are two contributing factors to ecosystem degradation. Although Hamilton Harbour (Ontario, Canada), a highly impacted ecosystem, is well-studied, the diet, trophic position, and foraging behaviour of the invasive Round Goby (Neogobius melanostomus) in this area is not well understood. In this study, we compared digestive tract contents, foraging behaviour, and stable isotope values of Round Goby from sites of low and high sediment contamination in Hamilton Harbour. We also assessed prey availability by conducting sediment invertebrate abundance analyses at these sites. Regardless of site, Chironomids, Cladocerans, Copepods and Dreissenids were the most common food items found in Round Goby digestive tracts, and females always had heavier gut contents compared to males. Fish from the high contamination site consumed fewer prey items, had lower gut fullness scores, and fed at a lower trophic level based on lower δ13C and δ15N values. Our results suggest that Round Goby living in highly contaminated areas are feeding less than Round Goby from areas of lower contamination, but that these diet differences do not reflect differences in prey availability. Fish from the high contamination site also typically moved more slowly while foraging. Taken together, these results provide an analysis of the main prey items of Round Goby in Hamilton Harbour, and demonstrate how polluted environments can impact diet, trophic position, and foraging of an introduced fish species.



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