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Introduction

  1. Top of page
  2. Introduction
  3. Materials and methods
  4. Results
  5. Discussion
  6. References

The genus Proterorhinus has been a recent subject of reorganization (Stepien and Tumeo, 2006; Neilson and Stepien, 2009; Sorokin et al., 2011). The distributional range of Proterorhinus semilunaris, a euryhaline species from the north-western Black Sea (Sorokin et al., 2011), was extended west to Germany (Kottelat and Freyhof, 2007) and France (Manné and Poulet, 2008). Regardless of its taxonomic position, the species has recently colonized numerous regions (Prášek and Jurajda, 2005; von Landwüst, 2006; Rizevsky et al., 2007; Grabowska et al., 2008; Cammaerts et al., 2012; Janáč et al., 2012). P. semilunaris has been mentioned from the Pannonic Basin since the end of the 19th century, but began a rapid expansion upstream within the last decades, probably due to the rise in water temperatures as well as river canalization (see Harka and Bíró, 2007). In north-western Romania, P. semilunaris has been identified in the lower course channels of the Crişul Repede River, near the border with Hungary (Telcean and Cupşa, 2009); the species has also been recorded in the Ier River, but with no indication of the location or the river sector (Ardelean et al., 2007). With these exceptions, P. semilunaris has otherwise not been mentioned in western Romania, despite thorough research in the Criş drainage area (e.g. Telcean et al., 2002; Telcean and Cupşa, 2007; Telcean, 2010; Györe et al., 2012, 2013).

Materials and methods

  1. Top of page
  2. Introduction
  3. Materials and methods
  4. Results
  5. Discussion
  6. References

In September 2012, we identified P. semilunaris (tubenose goby) in north-western Romania, more than 50 km upstream from the Hungarian border. The species was captured incidentally in Piru Nou, where we were making some herpetological studies. The tubenose gobies were captured using a round net attached to a long metal drawbar. Downstream from Piru Nou, the river was investigated to determine whether the species was anthropogenically introduced, or whether it extended actively from lower sections of the river from Hungary (Halasi-Kovács et al., 2011) where the species had already been identified.

Results

  1. Top of page
  2. Introduction
  3. Materials and methods
  4. Results
  5. Discussion
  6. References

Proterorhinus semilunaris was captured in two distinct localities in the Ier River (Fig. 1): Ciocaia (47°19′54.65″N; 22°03′16.82″E, 101 m a.s.l.) and Piru Nou (47°29′36.10″N; 22°22′53.36″E, 108 m a.s.l.), both located on a plain. At Ciocaia, the river has a depth of at least 1.5 m. There are willows on the riverbanks between the dikes and the water contains numerous macrophytes. At Piru Nou, the areas between the dikes are almost completely treeless due to excessive pastureland. The water has a depth of only 80 cm and contains numerous aquatic macrophytes, the river presenting rip-rap banks. The species' preference for this habitat seems to be confirmed by the larger number (over 30) of P. semilunaris captured at Piru Nou compared to only one at Ciocaia. The captured individuals are small in size, having standard lengths of 36–24 mm, respectively, and a total length of 43–30 mm.

image

Figure 1. Records (■) of Proterorhinus semilunaris in Ier River.

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Discussion

  1. Top of page
  2. Introduction
  3. Materials and methods
  4. Results
  5. Discussion
  6. References

The habitats populated by P. semilunaris differ between the two localities, although both of them present rich aquatic vegetation, a general requirement of this species (e.g. Rizevsky et al., 2007; Kocovsky et al., 2011; Janáč et al., 2012). The Ier River is strongly modified as a consequence of anthropogenic interventions that have affected the river as well as the nearby plains (Ardelean, 2001). Although Piru Nou is situated in a plains area, the banks of the Ier River are fortified with stones. In similar situations, these rip-rap banks represent a good habitat for P. semilunaris (Grabowska et al., 2008; Adámek et al., 2010).

The broad distribution of P. semilunaris in the Ier River seems remarkable, as this species was absent from the river a decade ago (Wilhelm et al., 2001; Telcean et al., 2002), and only subsequently mentioned without indicating the locality (Ardelean et al., 2007). This fact highlights its rapid range expansion in the region. Probably P. semilunaris had colonized the Romanian sector of Ier, spreading upstream from Hungary, where it was mentioned previously (Halasi-Kovács et al., 2011). However, there was no previous mention of the species in north-western Romania, although large rivers had been recently explored and where it was encountered only in Hungary (Györe et al., 2012, 2013). Still, the presence of the species in the Ier River emphasizes the fact that it is widely distributed in the Criş drainage area. The most plausible explanation is that this species had not been noted in the region using previous research methods. Fishes were previously captured by electrofishing (Györe et al., 2012, 2013), a method probably not effective in small rivers with rich aquatic vegetation as in the P. semilunaris habitat (Rizevsky et al., 2007; Kocovsky et al., 2011; Janáč et al., 2012) and where small fishes probably remained hidden in the vegetation. Thus, P. semilunaris possibly remained undetected, regardless of its presence. In contrast, the nets used for capturing amphibians are useful in places with vegetation. In Romania, other invasive fish species have been recently captured using the same method (Covaciu-Marcov et al., 2011).

The ability of P. semilunaris to colonize new regions is well known (Rizevsky et al., 2007; Grabowska et al., 2008; Cammaerts et al., 2012; Janáč et al., 2012); it seems that this colonization has been accelerated, at least in rivers of western Romania. A factor could be the drought in recent years, which diminished the water flow in rivers and channels and where the aquatic vegetation occupied long sectors of the rivers. Another factor contributing to the rapid range extension of this species could possibly be the uniformity of the Ier River that has large areas of few and similar fish communities (Telcean et al., 2002). This is probably a consequence of the massive anthropogenic impact upon the river (e.g. Ardelean, 2001), and the fact that P. semilunaris has an advantage in channels (e.g. Harka and Bíró, 2007). Undoubtedly, though, the expansion of this species in rivers of western Romania will be halted at the Apuseni Mountains, where the regional rivers are formed. The strong upstream advancement of the species is a result of its plasticity (e.g. Erős et al., 2005). Currently, it is probably premature to debate the impact of P. semilunaris on the local Ier River fauna. Nevertheless, the competition for shelter with native species was observed in the laboratory (van Kessel et al., 2011). Also, the diet of tubenose gobies contains invertebrates almost exclusively, suggesting dietary overlap with other benthic fish (Kocovsky et al., 2011). This fact could still state the question of the impact of P. semilunaris upon Ier River biodiversity.

References

  1. Top of page
  2. Introduction
  3. Materials and methods
  4. Results
  5. Discussion
  6. References
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