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Distribution of Round Gobies (Neogobius melanostomus) in Lake Michigan Drowned River Mouth Lakes and Wetlands: Do Coastal Wetlands Provide Refugia for Native Species?

Great Lakes coastal wetlands may serve as refuge habitats for native  species from exotic species.  As a first step in testing this  hypothesis, we investigated the distribution of the nonindigenous  round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) within and among Lake Michigan  drowned river mouth lake/wetland complexes.  We sampled lake and  adjacent wetland macrohabitats in four systems in 2  4 and six in  2  5.  In each macrohabitat, we sampled three microhabitats (mono- dominant stands of Nuphar, beds of submerged aquatic vegetation, and  bare sediment).  Our results indicated that round goby densities  were lower in the wetlands than adjacent lakes, suggesting that  wetland habitats may serve as refugia for native species in these  coastal systems.  We also found a significant negative correlation  between round goby catch and distance of sampling stations from the  Lake Michigan shoreline, suggesting that either (1) round gobies are  still penetrating these systems from Lake Michigan or (2) Lake  Michigan nearshore waters (including the connecting navigation  channels and pier areas) are serving as round goby spawning and  nursery habitats with subsequent dispersal into the drowned river  mouth lakes and wetlands.  Catch of round gobies among systems did  not correlate with anthropogenic disturbance (measured as watershed  land use and cover, nutrient and chloride concentrations, and linear  combinations of these parameters).  We also examined the response of  fish community composition within and among these systems.  Our  results indicated that fish communities were structured primarily by  anthropogenic disturbance and secondarily by macrohabitat (lake vs.  wetland).  Correspondence analysis revealed gradients in community  composition from the more disturbed systems (Kalamazoo and Pigeon)  to the less disturbed systems (Lincoln, Pentwater, Muskegon, and  White).  This gradient correlated significantly with the  anthropogenic disturbance variables we measured (specific  conductance, dissolved nutrients, and watershed land use and cover).

In progress
Start Date
End Date
Carl R. RuetzPrincipal Investigator
Associated with 3 projects
Don UzarskiResearcher
Associated with 12 projects
Matthew CooperResearcher
Associated with 11 projects
Thomas BurtonResearcher
Associated with 10 projects

Funding 1 projects for a total of $10,000.00
Scope of Study
Field Investigation
Scale of Phenomena
Impact of Pollutants
Exotic Species
Nutrients, Including Phosphorus
Natural Ecological Processes
Land Use and Habitat
Resource Management
State Province
Annex Numbers
Research & Development
Annex 17
Impact of water quality and AIS on fish and wildlife populations and habitats
  • Annex Numbers
    Annex Numbers
    Research & Development
  • Annex 17
    Annex 17
    Impact of water quality and AIS on fish and wildlife populations and habitats

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