Round gobies were first discovered in the Duluth-Superior Harbor, Lake Superior, in 1995. Anecdotal sightings by anglers and others suggested that the infestation was growing and expanding; however, direct evidence of the distribution and expansion rate in the harbor was largely unknown. Distribution and range of the round goby, Apollonia melanostoma, (formerly Neogobius melanostomus) was assessed using bottom trawl sampling throughout the Duluth-Superior Harbor, and portions of the lower St. Louis River from 1998 to 2004. Previous to 1998, round gobies only were reported to occupy the harbor between the two shipping entries (river kilometer 1 to 7). By 2004, they expanded throughout the harbor and upstream to river kilometer 13, but remained absent in western Lake Superior. The number of round gobies captured per 5 minutes of trawling (catch per unit effort, CPUE) increased from less than 1 fish in 1998 to an average 5.4 ?? 1.2 SE fish in 2004, indicating a large increase in the population. The median yearly fish total length varied from 56.0 to 81.5 mm and wet weight varied from 2.3 to 7.0 g. As nest guarding male round gobies were located in rocky habitats inaccessible to trawling, the initial years were dominated by female round gobies with a 16:1 female to male ratio, but by 2002 the maximum ratio was 2:1. The ratio change may be indicative of the increasing population forcing males from their preferred rocky habitat onto open substrates that were more accessible to trawling.
Additional publication details
Distribution, abundance, and range of the round goby, Apollina melanostoma, in the Duluth-Superior Harbor and St. Louis River estuary, 1998-2004