BIOTIC Species Information for Pomatoschistus microps
Researched byKaren Riley Data supplied byMarLIN
Refereed byAngus Jackson
Scientific namePomatoschistus microps Common nameCommon goby
MCS CodeZG478 Recent SynonymsNone

PhylumChordata SubphylumVertebrata
SuperclassGnathostomata ClassOsteichthyes
SubclassTeleostei OrderPerciformes
Suborder FamilyGobiidae
GenusPomatoschistus Speciesmicrops

Additional InformationPomatoschistus microps was once confused with the sand goby Pomatoschistus minutus but the common goby has a dark mark at the top of the base of the pectoral fin (Dipper, 2001). Pomatoschistus microps is a very abundant fish able to tolerate a wide range of salinity. However, it prefers low salinity areas. It resides throughout the British Isles in estuaries, saltmarshes, along the coastline and in intertidal pools. Its worldwide distribution extends from the Baltic Sea, western Norway to the western Mediterranean. The common goby migrates downstream, or into shallow waters, mainly at the onset of the breeding season, in spring.
Taxonomy References Howson & Picton, 1997, Hayward & Ryland, 1995b, Fish & Fish, 1996, Hayward et al., 1996, Froese & Pauly, 2000(d), Dipper, 2001,
General Biology
Growth formPisciform
Feeding methodPredator
Environmental positionDemersal
Typical food typesAmphipods, isopods, polychaetes and chironomid larvae. HabitFree living
Bioturbator FlexibilityHigh (>45 degrees)
FragilityIntermediate SizeSmall-medium(3-10cm)
Height Growth Rate0.16 -0.27 mm/day
Adult dispersal potential1km-10km DependencyIndependent
General Biology Additional InformationThe common goby is an important food source for both birds and larger fish. Adults feed at the surface of the sediment on amphipods, isopods, polychaetes and chironomid larvae, while the juveniles' diet consists largely of interstitial copepods.

Pomatoschistus microps matures early and has a short life span. Doornbos & Twisk (1987) reported a growth rate of 0.16 -0.27 mm/day. Its maximum age was found to be between 19 and 26 months in the Atlantic (Bouchereau & Guelorget, 1998; Miller, 1986; Miller, 1975), with most adults dying in the second autumn of life (Miller, 1975). In the Mediterranean the lifespan is reported as between 12 and 14 months (Bouchereau & Guelorget, 1998). The common goby is small, measuring up to 64 mm on British coasts (Jones and Miller, 1966) and 53 mm in the Mediterranean (Bouchereau et al., 1989).

Biology References Miller, 1975, Bouchereau & Guelorget, 1998, Jones & Miller, 1966, Froese & Pauly, 2000, Bouchereau et al., 1989, Miller, 1986, Doornbos & Twisk, 1987,
Distribution and Habitat
Distribution in Britain & IrelandThe common goby is found along all British and Irish coasts.
Global distribution Its worldwide distribution extends from the Baltic Sea, western Norway to the western Mediterranean.
Biogeographic rangeNot researched Depth rangeDown to 11 m.
MigratorySee additional information   
Distribution Additional InformationPomatoschistus microps is a migratory fish, except where natural or man-made barriers prevent this. In the Atlantic the common goby can migrate for spawning, moving inshore for the breeding season, or to avoid low salinities (Miller, 1975) and temperatures (Nyman, 1953; Jones & Miller, 1966; Araujo et al., 2000).

It can be found down to 11 m in depth but normally occurs at < 1 m. It may also follow the incoming tide up over mudflats. Along the coastline it moves into warmer, deeper water for the duration of winter (Barnes, 1994), in particular when sea temperatures drop below 5 °C, but not where minimum sea temperature is above 7 °C (Miller, 1975).

The common goby lives in estuary channels where current flow can be considerable. In estuaries the it migrates downstream during the breeding season and also with the onset of maturation (Miller, 1975). In the Mediterranean they tend to be less mobile.

Substratum preferencesCoarse clean sand
Fine clean sand
Sandy mud
Muddy sand
Gravel / shingle
Physiographic preferencesOpen coast
Enclosed coast / Embayment
Isolated saline water (Lagoon)
Biological zoneSublittoral Fringe
Wave exposureModerately Exposed
Very Sheltered
Extremely Sheltered
Tidal stream strength/Water flowInsufficient information
SalinityLow (<18 psu)
Variable (18-40 psu)
Reduced (18-30 psu)
Habitat Preferences Additional Information
Distribution References Hayward & Ryland, 1995b, Fish & Fish, 1996, Hayward et al., 1996, Barnes, 1994, Miller, 1975, Jones & Miller, 1966, Fonds, 1973, Araújo et al., 2000, Nyman, 1953, Eno et al., 1997,
Reproduction/Life History
Reproductive typeGonochoristic
Developmental mechanismOviparous
Reproductive SeasonApril to September Reproductive LocationBrood chamber / Pouch
Reproductive frequencyAnnual protracted Regeneration potential No
Life span1-2 years Age at reproductive maturity<1 year
Generation time1-2 years FecundityUp to 3,400
Egg/propagule sizeInsufficient information Fertilization typeInsufficient information
Larval/Juvenile dispersal potential>10km Larval settlement periodInsufficient information
Duration of larval stage2-10 days   
Reproduction Preferences Additional InformationLongevity was reported as 1.6 to 2 years (Miller, 1986). Common gobies breed in their first year of life, becoming sexually mature at approximately 7 months to one year old (Miller, 1986). They attach their eggs onto the upper surface of the interior of an empty bivalve shell, preferring that of Mya arenaria. The male guards the nest and fans the eggs with his tail, to oxygenate them while they are developing.
In the Atlantic, reproduction is protracted (Bouchereau & Guelorget, 1998; Rogers, 1989) and in the Mediterranean it is contracted (Bouchereau & Guelorget, 1998). The breeding season in south west Britain is from mid-April to August/September (Miller, 1986; Rogers, 1989) and between May and July in the Mediterranean (Bouchereau et al., 1989). The common goby spawns at temperatures between 10 and 20 °C (Fonds & van Buurt, 1974).
The common goby has a high individual fecundity and multiple spawning. Rogers (1988) observed 10 batches of eggs in a 16 week breeding season, while Miller (1979) and Bouchereau & Guelorget (1998) observed between 9 and 11 in an entire breeding season. Fecundity was noted to be between 650 and 3,400 by Miller (1986) and between 460 and 2,030 by Bouchereau et al. (1989).
Pampoulie et al. (2000) observed the effects of a drastic and prolonged decrease in salinity, from ca 14 to 5 g/l in less than a week, sustained for approximately four years, and an increase in turbidity due to a centennial flood in the Rhone river. It was reported that these conditions led to an increase in the fecundity per spawning act and egg size of the population. Eggs and larvae of the common goby survive well at salinities as low as 5 psu (Fonds, 1973).
Reproduction References Pampoulie et al., 2000, Rogers, 1988, Miller, 1979, Bouchereau & Guelorget, 1998, Fonds, 1973, Fonds & van Buurt, 1974, Rogers, 1989, Bouchereau et al., 1989, Miller, 1986, Doornbos & Twisk, 1987, Borg et al., 2002,
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