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Keywords:

  • Apollonia;
  • food availability;
  • Bivalvia;
  • invasion success;
  • zebra mussel

Abstract –  We investigated somatic condition, growth rate, diet and food resources of the native (lower Danube) and non-native (upper Danube) populations of invasive bighead goby Neogobius kessleri and round goby N. melanostomus within the Danube River to answer the question whether prey availability and type may have facilitated successful goby invasion to the upper Danube. The non-native populations of both species were in better somatic condition and grew faster. The biomass of nonmollusc macrozoobenthos, dominated by Amphipoda, was markedly higher in the non-native range while molluscs were recorded frequently in both the native and non-native ranges. Amphipods were far the most consumed prey by non-native fish, whereas native fish combined two main prey types – amphipods and fish (bighead goby) and amphipods and bivalves (round goby). A laboratory experiment was conducted to reveal whether the low consumption of bivalves by the round goby in the non-native range reflects prey encounter rates or alternatively prey selectivity. When bivalves and amphipods were offered simultaneously in excess to the experimental fish, round goby showed strong preference towards amphipods. Molluscs are hypothesised to be an alternative rather than the most preferred prey for the round goby. Rich food resources utilised by the non-native bighead and round goby contribute to their invasive success in the upper Danube.