Linking risk-taking behaviour and food-web interactions in a marine invader

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


Individuals vary in their willingness to take risks, and intraspecific variation in ‘boldness’ traits is commonly found across a wide range of taxa. This study presents a novel experimental approach to measure covariation between an animal’s boldness behavioural traits and their trophic state in the wild. This aim is to quantitatively test whether bolder or shyer individuals interact differently with their food-web environment, particularly focusing on how/and what they feed on. This question is particularly relevant to the round goby (Neogobius melanostomus), an invasive fish that shows behavioural variation in boldness traits that can differ across their invasion fronts in the Baltic Sea and North America, and also have acute impacts on their prey communities, particularly impacting bivalves and gastropods. We combine non-lethal individual-level stable isotope analysis of established round goby populations in southern Danish coastal ecosystems, with laboratory based behavioural assays. Our results find that round gobies show substantial variation in multiple boldness traits and their isotopic signatures, showing strong evidence of within-species diet specialisation in invaded areas. This work also shows that using a non-lethal methods for stable isotope analysis is a viable approach for this species, allowing the role of behaviour in food web interactions to be explored in new and unprecedented clarity.
Period8 Jul 2021
Event titleThe Society for Experimental Biology 2021 Annual Conference
Event typeConference
LocationOnline event