Boldness and physiological variation in round goby populations along their Baltic Sea invasion front

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: This is version 4 of this Preprint.

Add a Comment

You must log in to post a comment.


There are no comments or no comments have been made public for this article.


Download Preprint

Supplementary Files

Andrea Galli, Jane Windfeldt Behrens, Manuel Gesto, Nicholas Patrick Moran 


The round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) is a fish native to the Ponto-Caspian region that is highly invasive through freshwater and brackish habitats in northern Europe and North America. Individual behavioural variation appears to be an important factor in their spread, for example a round goby’s personality traits can influence their dispersal tendency, which may also produce variation in the behavioural composition of populations at different points along their invasion fronts. To further analyze the drivers of behavioural variation within invasive round goby populations, we focused on two populations along the Baltic Sea invasion front with closely comparable physical and community characteristics. Specifically, this study measured personality within a novel environment and predator response context (i.e., boldness), and directly analyzed links between individuals’ personality traits and their physiological characteristics and stress responses (i.e., blood cortisol and lactate, brain neurotransmitters). In contrast to previous findings, the more recently established population had similar activity levels but were less bold in response to a predator cue than the older population, which suggests that behavioural compositions within our study populations may be more driven by local environmental conditions rather than being a result of personality-biased dispersal. Furthermore, we found that both populations showed similar physiological stress responses, and there also appeared to be no detectable relationship between physiological parameters and behavioural responses to predator cues. Instead, body size and body condition were important factors influencing individual behavioural responses. Overall, our results reinforce the importance of boldness traits as a form of phenotypic variation in round goby populations in the Baltic Sea. We also highlight the importance of these traits for future studies specifically testing for effects of invasion processes on phenotypic variation in the species. Nonetheless, our results also highlight that the physiological mechanisms underpinning behavioural variation in these populations remain unclear.



Life Sciences


invasive, Personality, risk-taking behaviour, predation, novel environment, stress, Personality, risk-taking behaviour, predation, novel environment, Stress


Published: 2022-12-07 11:05

Last Updated: 2023-06-16 15:46

Older Versions

CC-BY Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International

Additional Metadata

Conflict of interest statement:

Data and Code Availability Statement:
All data and code used (including data processing, preparation, analysis and presentation) are available at the Open Science Framework (, doi:10.17605/OSF.IO/FB8NZ)